A Spool Of Blue Thread

A review of the book by Anne Tyler.

A Spool Of blue Thread is the first book by Anne Tyler that I have read, once again a book group choice, not my own. It is a family saga; not a genre I favour or would choose. Judging by the inside back cover, showing twenty books by Tyler, she is quite a prolific author.

The book is in four parts, in addition to the chapters, with the majority of it revolving around Red and Abbey Whitshank and their lives and family in their Baltimore home. In all, the story crosses four generations of the Whitshank family,, from Red and Abbey’s parents to their grandchildren. The last generation Red and Abbey’s grandchildren do not actually have a great impact on the story as it is told.

A well as the people, the house built by Red’s father, Junior Whitshank, has a major presence, becoming almost another player in the cast. It becomes known by the locals as The Porch House, which probably tells you something about it, without giving away any important part of the story.

I’ve already noted that A Spool Of Blue Thread is in four parts, but they are not all roughy the same number of pages. Parts one and two together take up about three quarters of the book, which is unfortunate. At any time in the first two parts I could have put the book down and not picked it up again. Part four is the shortest part of all, and can be whipped through pretty quick, even for a slow reader, like me.

Only part three, about Red’s father and mother, Junior and Linnie Mae, made me want to keep turning the page to see what was coming next. This part although contributing to the book as a whole could, in my opinion, have been told in its own novella that I would really have enjoyed I think.

“It makes you wonder why we bother accumulating, accumulating, when we
know from earliest childhood how it’s all going to end.” – Abbey Whitshank.

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