Anne Tyler is one of my favourite authors. I love her narrow focus – like Austen’s three or four families in a country village. It is the common experience made extraordinary. I have read Breathing Lessons, The Beginner’s Goodbye and Breathing Lessons and was keen to read A Spool of Blue Thread. I went to the Lane Book store (my small attempt to keep an independent book store alive).
Here is the blurb …
“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.” This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family–their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog–is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red’s father. Brimming with the luminous insight, humor, and compassion that are Anne Tyler’s hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.
I really enjoyed the sections about Abby and Red – their courting days and as an elderly couple with adult children. The story is mostly told from Abby’s point of view, but you get snippets from the other family members. Abby is generous and caring always bringing ‘strays’ home for Sunday lunch. It is clear that her children (well at least one) recent her attention being elsewhere. This novel is about the give and take of relationships, differing expectations, secrets and what is required from each member of a family.
However, I didn’t enjoy the section on Junior and Linnie. I thought Junior was repellent. Although I did enjoy reading about his craftsmanship and the beautiful home he built – just whose burglar kit was it?
As always, the writing was lovely and I have a real feel for the house – the porch, sun-room and the intricate woodwork. And I want to know what happens next – how will Red cope in his small apartment, will Denny finally settle down, and what about Stem?
More reviews …