Like all of the books I have read by Anne Tyler, this is a book about ordinary people and the ordinary things that happen to them. There is no suspense or intrigue beyond the suspense and intrigue that exists in the ordinary, everyday situation. And yet, in spite of the book’s ordinariness (or perhaps because of it) the reader is held captive, becoming part of the family described on the pages, wanting to know more.
A Spool of Blue Thread tells the story of Red and Abby Whitshank and their four children. Part of the story is told in the present tense, part is told as flashbacks to when Red and Abby were younger versions of themselves. Everything that happens in the book is completely possible, and it is this factor that grabs the reader’s attention. Situations and problems are all recognizable, and as a result it is easy for the reader to become part of what is going on.
The book, like all Anne Tyler’s books, is well written. The only criticism I would make is that it may be just a little too long. My interest was definitely retained until the three-quarter mark when, like the spool of thread it is describing, the book seemed to unwind. The remaining quarter was still worth reading, but there was a feeling of having already passed the finishing post.
Photo of Anne Tyler from www.telegraph.co.uk