A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

And just like that, my faith in books has been restored.

After finishing a book I didn’t enjoy, I am often left with the ridiculous but very real worry that I’ll never enjoy a book again. Hausfrau gave me just that feeling; Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread took it away just as quickly.


This book was an absolute joy. And that’s not to say that the story was particularly action-packed or a happy one, or that the characters were all likeable and perfect – it wasn’t and they weren’t. But where Hausfrau failed to ignite any sort of sympathy in me for the main character’s feelings and actions, Tyler created a cast of characters who were deeply flawed, but also believable and redeemable – or at the very least they were aiming for redemption, even if they might not always get there.

A Spool of Blue Thread is a classic Anne Tyler family drama. It is the story of three generations of the Whitshank family, at the centre of which is their beautiful family home, built by Junior – the oldest of the Whitshanks that we meet. From the porch of this house we learn their stories, share their pains and triumphs and witness all of the encounters that make this family at once unique but also just like families all over the world. As Tyler so beautifully puts it:

“That was another of their quirks: they had a talent for pretending that everything was fine. Or maybe it wasn’t a quirk at all. Maybe it was just further proof that the Whitshanks were not remarkable in any way whatsoever”.

I enjoyed this book a lot – it felt like an episode of Parenthood, wrapped in August: Osage County with a sprinkle of This is Where I Leave You and a pinch of The Corrections. So, if any of those float your boat, you should definitely give this one a go.

I’m giving this 9.5 out of 10 porch swings, blue ones of course (you’ll get the joke when you read it…).

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