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A Single Thread: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier

A Single Thread: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Tracy Chevalier (Author)

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2682867,375 (3.99)9
An immersive, moving story of a woman coming into her own at the dawn of the Second World War, from internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier 1932. After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé, Violet Speedwell has become a "surplus woman," one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men. Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring for her grieving, embittered mother. After countless meals of boiled eggs and dry toast, she saves enough to move out of her mother's place and into the town of Winchester, home to one of England's grandest cathedrals. There, Violet is drawn into a society of broderers--women who embroider kneelers for the Cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers. Violet finds support and community in the group, fulfillment in the work they create, and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda. But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon, Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren't expected to grow. Told in Chevalier's glorious prose, A Single Thread is a timeless story of friendship, love, and a woman crafting her own life.… (more)
Title:A Single Thread: A Novel
Authors:Tracy Chevalier (Author)
Info:Viking (2019), 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:edelweiss, reviewed

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A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier



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English (27)  German (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
I hope others will understand me when I say this is a very 'English' novel. A woman in her 30s who lost a brother and her fiancee during WWl, she moves from living with her demanding and manipulative mother in Southhampton. Working for a pittance in Winchester, she finds a new life and new friends through joining the Broderers of Winchester Cathedral (google them), and this leads to profound life changes. I loved this quiet, slow-paced book. ( )
  herschelian | Feb 13, 2020 |
Violet Speedwell in 1932 at age 38 is one of the "surplus women" who lost a fiance' and a brother in WWI and has little hopes of finding romance, She has left the home of her domineering mother and is living in a women's boarding house in Winchester, doing clerical work in an insurance office with two much younger women.

One afternoon she stops into Winchester Cathedral and stumbles upon the knowledge that there are a group of women who are working to provide needlepoint kneelers and seat cushions in the sanctuary. Despite having no knowledge or previous experience with needlepoint embroidery, Violet sees this as a way for her to leave her mark on the world.

The narrative takes us through Violet's tutelage by Louisa Pesel (a real life character and embroidery designer). A plot thread the ties Violet to the bell ringers of Winchester Cathedral, and several other plot twists.

The author has done thorough research and has a deft understanding of the social and cultural dynamics of the era which she uses to create an engaging and interesting narrative. ( )
  tangledthread | Feb 13, 2020 |
Nothing much happens in A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, so why did I fall in love with it? It's not the first time this has happened either. Stoner by John Williams is the slow moving story of an ordinary man and it was such an exquisite portrait of his life that it instantly became an all-time favourite of mine.

Violet Speedwell is the protagonist in A Single Thread and in 1932 she is reeling following the painful loss of her brother and fiance in WWI. Violet decides to leave home and try to make it on her own in Winchester. Life is tough for surplus women and Violet does her best to get by and carve out a life of joy for herself.

While admiring the architecture of the local cathedral, she comes across the work of a group of broderers and decides she'd like to make a kneeler. It will be a permanent reminder of her life when she too is gone.

I've often shared Violet's thoughts that when I die, there will be no lasting evidence I was ever here. One of the reasons I love looking at architecture, paintings and needlework is that I can wonder about the hands that painstakingly created these precious objects from the past and imagine the lives their creators lived. I'm sure the desire to create something that might just outlive me was a small part of the reason I started stitching in the first place. Creating a tangible gift for a loved one with your own hands is something special and Violet wants to do this too.

This combination of historical fiction and stitching - along with the unexpected inclusion of bell ringing - was a sure sign I was going to enjoy this novel.

Adding to my reading experience was the fact I suggested this book for a monthly book club on GoodReads called A Stitcher's Book Club. A couple of us read A Single Thread at the same time and I'm sure this added to my overall reading enjoyment.

Containing themes of family, duty, responsibility, post-war culture, grief and expectations of women in society, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier was a real feel good read and I heartily enjoyed it. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Jan 31, 2020 |
While I was interested in her historical depth & presentation of the women between the wars and the arts of bell ringing and embroidery in that time period I thought the story was too mundane for the most part. The relationships of Violet with Arthur & was interesting, but something was lacking in the book and I'm not sure what. ( )
  EllenH | Jan 26, 2020 |
Many elements of this book are worth mentioning: at its heart it’s about the plight of “surplus women” due to the dearth of available men after WWI. These “spinsters” face loneliness, expectations they are just caretakers for others without their own ambitions, lack friendships and relationships, and worst of all, the fear women have of feeling stalked and threatened by men who think they can “have” you just because you’re a woman. There are beautiful descriptions of learning embroidery and ringing church bells and making new and diverse friends, and learning to deal with all of the above issues. Excellent descriptions of what it’s like just to be a woman, many true even now. This could have been a very slow, tedious read but I liked the audio version, which was very well done. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Jan 23, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tracy Chevalierprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rademacher, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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