A Spool Of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler

From the beloved Pulitzer-prize winning author comes a great little novel about the very nature of family.

Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread tells the story of Abby and Red and their families. Both are getting older and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. As the family gathers on the porch to hear, once again, how Abby and Red fell in love, we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks.

Brimming with humour, insight and compassion, Tyler takes readers on a trip through memory lane. The events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what the Whitshanks are are exposed, in turn exposing the essential nature of family life.

The book’s timeline moves back and forth with overlapping stories – much like a spool of thread. The book starts with Abby and Red’s story and a sudden turn to the tales of previous generations distracted me. They were also dull and didn’t really add to the story at all. I wanted to know what happened with Abby and Red immediately, not two sections away.

This is probably because Tyler is such a master of character development that you can’t help but feel you’re part of the family. Each character is so well-rounded and achingly real that you get wrapped up in their lives. I wasn’t ready to leave Abby and Red so abruptly, so I was pleased that you do, eventually, get back to them. I also enjoyed the fact that the ending was not the ‘cookie cutter’ ending I had been expecting, although it was a bit abrupt.

Those new to Tyler may want to choose an early book as an introduction – she has plenty to chose from with a 50-year career as a writer – but fans will be pleased with this latest addition to her repertoire.

A good little novel that exposes family life in all its ugly and beautiful glory, A Spool of Blue Thread is an easy read for those looking to escape for a few hours.

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TITLE: A Spool Of Blue Thread
AUTHOR(S): Anne Tyler
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
RRP: $36.99
ISBN: 9780701189525

Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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