A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

by on June 25th, 2015
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler Cover Image

Consummate storyteller Anne Tyler has written her 20th novel to great reviews. This is the story of four generations of Whitshanks who lived in a house in Baltimore beginning in the 1920’s.  Recounting her romance with Red that began on a glorious “yellow-and-green afternoon” in July of 1959, the matriarch, Abby, relates all their complicated lives full of love, jealousy, and secrecy.  The author touches on her insights into assumptions about class, gender, race and age and the story is told with humor and great dialogue.  Her family is now trying to figure out how best to care for Abby and Red in their old age and some wish to sell the old homestead.  The novel switches back and forth in time as it unfolds the family’s history and this may be a bit confusing for some readers.  The conversations, the stream of consciousness, the wisdom and wit all make for a great choice for Book Group discussion.  The three-dimensional characters are memorable such as Linnie Mae, Junior’s wife; Stem, Red and Abby’s adopted son who still feels like he plays second fiddle; Denny, who can’t be counted on and comes in and out of everyone’s lives bringing his young daughter into the mix; and sharp-tongued Amanda.  A Spool of Blue Thread is a story about family–the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Tyler’s prose is as touching and truthful as ever when dealing with a family in all its complexity–something most of us can surely relate to in our own families, especially those of use in the sandwich generation. Bravo, Anne Tyler, you’ve done it again.

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