Original title: A Spool of Blue Thread
Edition Language: English
Format: Audio book
Read by: Kimberly Farr
The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets.
It was my first book by Anne Tyler, and it was praised in many reviews, so I guess my expectations were a bit high. I hate to say, but I found this book a bit tedious and really hard to get seriously invested in. This is a very simple piece of literary fiction that focuses on its characters and their development. It is about a family of many members whom we gradually get to know, an entirely believable portrait of an American family in Baltimore.
The Whitshanks are a family full of quirks, secrets, opinions and history. Anne Tyler has structured the story line in a very interesting manner: we follow their story from one generation to the next – unchronologically, which is interestingly done. What is most fascinating is how she unveils some of the false memories of the Whitshank family when we go back in time. While many readers consider this a cosy novel, there are elements which point in the other direction. I found it quite sad and dramatic and it brought up many existential questions.
I cannot say I disliked the novel. It is written very well, but it just didn't grab me. I kept reading on thinking it will pick up soon, something will happen, but it never really did. Yes, there were a few minor surprises, and plot twists, but not enough to change the atmosphere of the book for me.