Book Review: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

A spool of blue thread

Its no secret around here that I’m a great fan of Anne Tyler or that I could’t wait to get my hands on her latest Bailey’s prize shortlisted novel.  I certainly couldn’t wait until it came out in paperback.  A hardback book is something special and I’m very happy I treated myself to this.  It makes it even more of a joy to read.

This is the story of the Whitshank’s and their house.  Abby and Red are in their 70’s and live in the house that Reds father built and brought his family up in.  As they enter their twilight years their family, Amanda, Jeannie, Stem, their partners  and the elusive Denny converge on them to make decisions about their future.

As with all Anne Tyler novels, on the surface this story of domestic life might at first glance appear sugary and sweet.  However, it doesn’t take long for her skilful story telling to make you realise all is not as it might appear.  Bombshells are gently dropped into the story as it becomes clear that the Whitshank’s are not the ideal family they might be mistaken for.

I’m angry at your for leading us on such  song and dance all those years, not just these last few years but all the years, skipping all those holidays and staying away from the beach trips and missing Mom and Dad’s thirtieth anniversary another thirty-fith and Jeannie’s baby and not attending my wedding that time or or even sending a card or calling to wish me well.  But most of all Denny, most of all: I will never forgive you for consuming every little drop of our parents’ attention and leaving nothing for the res of us.”

Like all  of Anne Tyler’s novels this is one that needs to be read more than once.  She has such a continuously beautiful turn of phrase that its difficult to really appreciate her writing in just one read.

“…I saw the back of his neck, this fragile, slender stem of a neck and it struck me all at once that there was nobody anywhere, any place on this planet, who would look at that little neck and just have to reach out and cup a hand behind it.  You know how you just have to touch your child, sometimes?  How you drink him in with your eyes and you could stare at him for hours and you marvel at how dear and impossibly perfect he is”

Another cleverly observant and sympathetic novel by Anne Tyler and one I certainly commend her to you.

Image: Changing Pages



  1. May 27, 2015 / 6:38 am

    Hi, I have just finished “A Spool of Blue Thread” and enjoyed your review – and would be curious to ask which of her novels you would recommend I read next. Have enjoyed “Breathing Lessons”, quite liked “The Accidental” one. Thanks! Nicola

    • May 27, 2015 / 9:40 pm

      Hi Nicola, thanks for commenting. I’ve fairly recently read ‘The Beginners Good bye’ which I enjoyed and I love ‘Ladder of Years’. Look forward to finding out which you choose next. Have just visited your lovely blog. Great reviews Angie

      • May 27, 2015 / 9:45 pm

        Thank you so much – am only just two months in so still very fresh to it, but so enjoying discovering like-minded booklovers and their news and views. Will add TBGB to my Wish List. Bye for now, Nicola

  2. July 13, 2015 / 6:58 pm

    Have just finished this – didn’t want to read the review until I had read the book! I will be reading it again as I got a bit lost here and there. Not my favourite Anne Tyler book but then some of her books are so brilliant that I am amazed that she is able to keep producing stories that are so readable. ‘Back when we were Grownups’ is still my favourite.

    • July 14, 2015 / 3:10 pm

      I agree it’s not my favourite either, I can’t decide which is. Anne Tyler is always such a joy to read, that I just lap them up. I don’t think I have read ‘Back When We were Grown Ups’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *