A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 10th by Bond Street Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
This book is hard to write a summary for. The plot sweeps through three generations and the family history that lies therein. A Spool of Blue Thread is a family saga, a rich tapestry of family history peopled by interesting and compelling characters. There are Abby and Red, the current matriarch and patriarch of the Whitshank family. There are their four children—Amanda, Jeannie, Denny, and Stem— and subsequent grandchildren. There are Linnie and Junior—Red’s parents, the founders of the Whitshank family as we know it—who we only meet through the eyes of the past. As Red and Abby grow older, their children must come together to care for them. They are brought back to the family home, built by Junior’s hands.
This is a story of family, of resentment, of secrets, of acceptance, of forgiveness. It’s a story of love, of hardship, of the American Dream. It’s a magnificent story written by a brilliant author. It’s one you won’t soon forget.
I really, really liked this book. I was immediately drawn into the lives of Abby and Red. I could see their flaws, but I loved them anyway. That is one of the major high points of this book. Tyler make you feel for the characters like you would members of your own family. She lets you get a glimpse of the workings of the Whitshanks, and there is something so familiar about it—so real. The day-to-day, the trivial, it becomes so interesting when placed on the backdrop of a family drama.
This book jumps back in time to flesh out the characters and their histories. Tyler does this so wonderfully and seamlessly. Each trip back in time is so fitting and so well placed. As you read, this family blooms before you, letting you in on a deeper level than any of the individual family members ever achieve.
There was one thing that I didn’t really like—as far as the characters go, most were fully fleshed out. However, the daughters Amanda and Jeannie felt two-dimensional. Perhaps this is in line with the way Abby and Red focused more on their boys, but I would have liked to know them more.
I love this quotation:
‘Well, you know about time. How slow it is when you’re little and how speeds up faster and faster once you’re grown. Well, now it’s just a blur. I can’t keep track of it anymore! But it’s like time is sort of… balanced. We’re young for such a small fraction of our lives, and yet our youth seems to stretch on forever. Then we’re old for years and years, but time flies by fastest then. So it all comes out equal in the end, don’t you see.’
This is the first book I’ve read by Anne Tyler but it definitely won’t be the last! She won the Pulitzer prize in 1999 for Breathing Lessons so that’s definitely going on my TBR! Check this one out if you like family stories, literary fiction, or general adult fiction!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.