A Spool of Blue Thread, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The Sunday Times Bestseller Longlisted For The Man Booker Prize Shortlisted For The Baileys Women's Fiction Prize. '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 summer's day in 1959.

The whole family on the porch, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before.

From that porch we spool back through the generations, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define the family.

From Red's father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red's grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century - four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their home..."One of my favourite authors." (Liane Moriarty). "She spins gold." (Elizabeth Buchan). "Anne Tyler has no peer." (Anita Shreve). "Anne Tyler is one of my favourite writers and this is a delicious book." (Rachel Joyce).




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I have been waiting months for the Kindle price of this novel to drop into the realms of sanity, and then the instant I plump for the paperback, the ebook is suddenly half price! Anyway, I don't begrudge paying more after reading and enjoying this long, meandering tale of the Whitshank family - which might have been much longer, had the author not called time at three generations - and would definitely recommend to others who enjoy reading about characters more than action-packed plotlines.At the heart of the story is the Whitshank's house on Bouton Road, in Hampden, Baltimore - or more accurately, the wide porch at the front of the house, which made Red's father Junior fall in love with the plans for a house he was building for someone else. Junior and Linnie Mae raised Red and his sister Merrick in the house, and Red eventually came home to roost with his own brood of children, dogs and Abby's 'orphans'. The third and final generation of Whitshanks, with assorted husbands and grandchildren, are drawn back home when Abby's memory becomes a cause for concern. I most enjoyed the 'now' portion of the story, and was absolutely gutted by one key event, but all of the Whitshanks are sympathetic, believable characters, drawn together by the 'heart' of the novel, the family home. I didn't want to leave! Like all memorable fictional families, the Whitshanks are suitably dysfunctional, with their share of skeletons in the closets - and decorating the porch - but they band together admirably in times of tension and grief. I think everyone can relate to this family - I know I certainly could! Not a lot happens - and when something did, I was shocked! - but a lot of family history is covered, explaining the characters and their relationships in vivid colour and depth.A heartwarming story, beautifully told.

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