Review: A Spool of Blue Thread

July 16, 2015 book review, family, fiction, Knopf 3

A spool of Blue Thread

  • Written By:  Anne Tyler
  • Published By:  Knopf, February 10, 2015
  • Length:  358 Pages
  • Source:  Purchased

Summary:  “It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . .” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish. (publisher)

My Thoughts:  I love Anne Tyler’s books, and I was thrilled when this one was published, rushing to purchase the first week.  I had no problem reading this one quickly, but in the end it was not what I expected.

The story doesn’t follow a timeline or even a typical recollection pattern.  The memories and histories of the Whitshank family are all over the place.  While the stories of  how Abby fell in love with the family and then with Red were fascinating the details and minutiae of each family member was long.  Some seemed unnecessary and got lost in the details. As happens in real life the parents age, and the present day story revolves around Red leaving behind their beloved home and moving someplace he can better manage. Naturally all his children have different opinions, and they aren’t always interested in his.

I had considered not reviewing this book at all, but I did like the book, but it’s not something I loved, or a book I’ve been recommending.  The  book left me feeling  a little sad, and wishing the outcome of the story were different.  If you read A Spool of Blue Thread I hope you’ll share your thoughts.  I’ll continue to read books by Anne Tyler, because she is mostly genius.

3 Responses to “Review: A Spool of Blue Thread”

  1. BermudaOnion

    I love her work too and have always thought it was a little rambling. I plan to read this but may have to be in the right mood if it will leave me feeling sad.

  2. Heather

    I felt very similar to you about this one. Unfortunately, it was my first experience with Anne Tyler so I am not confident I’ll read more of her novels. I do have a short story collection of hers that I might try, though.

  3. Elisabeth

    I have been an Anne Tyler fan from the start of her writing career. A Spool of Blue Thread was a big disappointment for me. I did not find the characters interesting and could not connect with the story. I have noticed that her later works are for the most part not as good reads as her earlier novels.

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