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A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
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A Spool of Blue Thread

by Anne Tyler

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1,7901343,914 (3.66)248
  1. 20
    Dear Life by Alice Munro (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both books focus on ordinary lives and families with a strong sense of place. Both are written by a master at the top of her game.
  2. 10
    Some Luck by Jane Smiley (cat.crocodile)
  3. 00
    Someone by Alice McDermott (zhejw)
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English (132)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All (134)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
This is a story about a family. A family whose roots are unknown to the family itself, and will remain that way, but the reader gets a glimpse. It started with a stark, short phone conversation between father and son and I was grabbed right away. However, I have to admit that it was pretty boring for awhile and while I was committing to finish it (and not Pearl rule it), I was thinking that I wasn't going to like it in the end - it just seemed like a book about a slightly dysfunctional but normal family. But then things started to get interesting, and it turns out this family, or at least its origins, were not normal at all. I'm smiling a bit now at how I was almost fooled into thinking this wouldn't be a worthwhile read. ( )
  LisaMorr | Oct 7, 2017 |
These are people I know and have known and will know. Is ordinary the right word?! ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 21, 2017 |
I think this is my favourite Tyler book yet. The author captures well, family dynamics through the generations and the changing roles we play throughout our lives. ( )
  HelenBaker | Aug 17, 2017 |
An interesting literature about chronological life of a family and a house. ( )
  Baochuan | Aug 8, 2017 |
So far...bored to death. -_- More later... ( )
  Trisarey | Aug 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
Readers anticipating an easy “domestic” novel will be terrifically surprised...Tyler’s genius as a novelist involves her ability to withhold moral judgment of her characters.....Tyler is in full command of her scenes and her characters, grounding her reader in time and space in every sequence of this tightly written and highly readable novel. .....Breaking with a conventional linear structure, the final and most compelling chapters belong to Abby and relay the series of events that led to her falling in love with Red, a story that exists only in Abby’s memory, told here to the reader. The discoveries in these final pages are likely to force readers to reflect back on the earlier chapters and view them in an entirely new — and much darker — light. Here we see the truth about every love story: It was merely an accident of chance.
 
Readers of any age should have no trouble relating to Abby's complaint that "the trouble with dying ... is that you don't get to see how everything turns out. You won't know the ending." Her daughter protests, "But, Mom, there is no ending." To which Abby replies, "Well, I know that." And then Tyler adds the unspoken kicker her fans have come to look for: "In theory." We can only hope that Tyler will continue spooling out her colorful Baltimore tales for a long time to come.
 
Now 73, Tyler has hinted that this might be her last novel. If so, she may not have ended with a masterpiece, but she has given us plenty of reminders of her lavish strengths: the quiet authority of her prose; the ultimately persuasive belief that a kindly eye is not necessarily a dishonest one; and perhaps above all, the fact that, 50 years after she started, she still gives us a better sense than almost anyone else of what it’s like to be part of a family – which for most of us also means a better sense than almost anyone else of what it’s like to be alive.

And if all that’s not enough to earn a top-table place, then maybe it’s time to rethink the criteria for qualification.
 


Indeed, very little happens in her books. Characters get caught up in repetitive, dead-end conversations which merely fill the gaps, and where silence, existentialist terror and a fear of death continually lingers.

But in this passing of time — where seasons change, flowers wither, then bloom again, people marry, babies are born and the elderly die slowly with dignity — Tyler then weighs in with her own subtle commentary as a narrator who exudes tremendous skill and precision.

It is in these details that she attempts to convey truth, meaning and esthetic beauty. And Tyler’s narrative is a brilliant testament to why the novel still provides an enormously important role in our culture, allowing us to capture the little bits of humanity that somehow seem to bypass us in the real world. ...A Spool of Blue Thread primarily focuses on domestic dreams and disputes, daily ceremonial acts and relationships. Love, loss, and death are about the only certainties the author can guarantee. Family is all we have, Tyler’s prose seems to suggest.
 
Tyler is in the top rank of American writers, and moments in this novel have an affinity with Canada’s Alice Munro too. But what she has that neither Robinson nor Munro possess to the same degree is an irrepressible sense of the comedy beneath even the most melancholy surface – or sometimes peeking just above it – in human affairs.

Tyler is good on irony too....Tyler is sensitive to the tragicomedy of old age and its indignities. Her writing is characterised by an amused, sweeping tolerance that acknowledges imperfection at all ages. ..Tyler writes with witty economy..It takes organised wit to write about human muddle as Tyler does, without once losing our attention or the narrative’s spool of blue thread.
 
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Late one July evening in 1994, Red and Abby Whitshank had a phone call from their son Denny.
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'It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon...' This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They've all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself. From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we also see played out our own hopes and fears, rivalries and tensions - the essential nature of family life.
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