A Spool of Blue Thread: a novel
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Ballentine Books, 2015
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Paperback Edition: 398 pages plus Reader’s Guide
Source: personal copy
Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler writes books beloved by the critics and by her many readers. This time her story is about the Whitshanks, a family full of stories, filled with secrets, tender times, jealousy and disappointments through several generations. There’s meaning tucked into every situation, interaction, and exploration of their lives.
This reader missed the joy and humor. These emotions seem too often to escape the characters. I most enjoy books grounded in time and place. Sometimes in this story there seemed to be a lack of clarity about just where and when events were occurring. It’s structure moves about in time and place and the author’s choices about who and when to continue the story seemed always surprising, and not in a good way. Sometimes even what had happened seemed fuzzy to this reader.
I’m sorry I will miss the book club discussion. I know such discussions can clarify any reading experience. We know, too that a reading experience is a combination of what is on the page, and what the reader brings to the reading. Perhaps I was distracted and lacking in the careful reading this book deserves; perhaps the voice and circumstances of this story did not grab me as much as some.
A deep sadness overwhelmed this story and clouded the bits of cooperation and happy moments experienced by some family members. Each character struggled to be more connected, to be better in some way, but it seemed each was doomed to failure. Only the joy of a house, an inanimate object seemed to hold the family and the story together.
This reading experience did make me stop and think and vow to hold tightly to every bit of joy, humor and satisfaction in life, to magnify it, and to be deeply grateful for such moments. I will be picking up the pieces of this Anne Tyler story for some time. Wondering about the jigsaw nature of the relationships in this story, thinking about the near misses of life and its more solid connections may keep me on the edge of understanding this story and its lessons long after I close the book.