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review 2016-11-11 02:41
A Spool of Blue Thread - Anne Tyler
A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel - Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler is a master at making family relationships come alive, in all their messy glory, and A Spool of Blue Thread is no exception. Set in Baltimore, as most of her novels are, this book tells the story of the Whitshanks -- a family who came up from nothing, yet ended up owning a house as quirky as they are.

The patriarch these days is Red Whitshank. He and his wife Abby have four grown children and a number of grandchildren. Red and Abby are getting on in years, and part of the plot centers around how the adult children can best help their parents age in place. But that's only one of the things going on here; the family has several secrets, and you can bet they'll all be revealed before the final page.

A Spool of Blue Thread was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, among its many accolades. I enjoyed the book, but I wondered whether the Booker nod wasn't as much for her career as for this book in particular. Maybe when I read it, I wasn't in the mood for a book about a quirky but charming American family, one with plot threads that weave around each other to create a fabric rather than racing toward a finish line. There's humor and heart here, but not enough to make me love the book Suffice it to say that I've read a few of Tyler's books, and this one isn't my favorite. (That would be The Accidental Tourist.)

Recommended for readers who enjoy meandering family sagas with moments of humor.

Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/11/a-spool-of-blue-thread-anne-tyler.html
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review 2016-10-25 15:21
"A Spool of Blue Thread", by Anne Tyler
A Spool of Blue Thread - Anne Tyler

Tyler's story encompasses three generations of the Whitshank family, wandering back and forth over 7 decades of the 20th century. “A Spool of Blue Thread”, is Anne Tyler’s 20th novel. It also happens to be the first novel of hers I’ve ever read. I wanted to use my unfamiliarity with Tyler as an asset.

This intimate portrait of middle-class life stumbles heavily on clichés. Some would say the author writes with witty economy of words I would say she is long winded. “A Spool of Blue Thread” walks a thin line between moving and the banal. The style has a warm and lucid prose but verges on the sentimental or cloying. We have traumatic episodes from the past detonated at intervals but the impact is muffled by a very calm narrative. The family life is told by its members in multiple versions of reality past and present. This novel is definitely character driven and very homey. We have a plot zooming on parents, their relationship with their children and grand-children, their house neighborhood and friends. Although a lot consists of logistics undoubtedly true, it is not especially thrilling to read about.

I found this novel very wobbly. I had a hard time staying focussed all through its 350 pages or so. Some also say tads of humour lay between the lines, I never saw this at all. Definitely I lack any sense of humour. Maybe I am on the left field with my views since most people love Ms. Tyler books immensely. Again I am part of an exceptional group of none fans…..

By now you may sense I wasn’t too thrilled with this book and you would be right. Of course this is my opinion only and is to be taken with a grain of salt. In no way do I want to offend any friends or readers in not sharing positive thoughts on this book. Reading a story may resonate for someone in a personal or emotional way. This story definitely will do this.

“A Spool of Blue Thread” has not provided the kind of story I enjoyed. (my lost)

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review 2016-07-27 17:30
A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel - Anne Tyler
  Well written story of a family who have to deal with their parents getting older. I didn't like the characters. None of them were sympathetic. The best character was Nora, the daughter-in-law. She's calm and steady as chaos abounds. All were trying to pretend nothing was wrong as their mother was beginning to deal with memory issues.

I know people like this and I could put a real name to each character. It is very realistic. There are funny moments but overall it is sad. Secrets are kept but are
found out in various ways and at various times that cause hurt and pain.

Great book for discussion.
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review 2016-05-26 19:52
A Spool of Blue Thread
A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel - Anne Tyler

I am guessing, based on some of the reviews I’ve seen of this novel online, that you are either a fan of Anne Tyler or you’re not, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in between. I would count myself a fan, though apparently this is the first new title of hers I’ve read since joining Goodreads / Booklikes a couple of years ago.


In any case, this is a typical Tyler novel, a gentle read about family adjusting to loss and aging, and nostalgic for the events that brought them to that point. According to the publisher’s description, “The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness.” This sounds great in theory, but I really don’t think it is an accurate description of the book. For one thing, their ordinary dysfunctions were what appealed to me most — and their differences, which made them individuals, were not always enviable. Despite their differences, or maybe because of them, Tyler has produced a poignant, nuanced work that weaves together generations, creating characters that live and breathe, endure tragedies and celebrate triumphs. She returns to her beloved Baltimore, and the setting is as much a character in this book as any of the Whitshank clan. There is no overarching drama or plot twists here, but there are tears, disappointments, thoughtless words and plenty of laughter. So yes, a lot like life, only maybe a teensy bit better with such a pretty cover.

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review 2016-01-29 18:04
"A Spool Of Blue Thread" by Anne Tyler -the thread was too thin and spooled too slowly
A Spool of Blue Thread: A novel - Anne Tyler

This is the first time I've ever put an Anne Tyler book aside unfinished. I'm five hours into a thirteen hour book and I've lost the will to continue.


As you would expect with an Anne Tyler book, "A Spool Of Blue Thread" is very well written. The language is precise but accessible, the dialogue is authentic and nothing is pretentious. The life of the family at the centre of the book spilled into my imagination, like toys falling from an over-stuffed wardrobe, from the first page onwards.


There are no characters in this book, only people. Characters have back-stories and personal quirks that move a plot along. Each one has a narrative that you know the author will disclose in a way that gives the most dramatic effect. I learned about the people in this book the way I would learn about anyone else: by repeated exposure, by shared stories, by watching how they treat each other and guessing how they see themselves. They have lives, not back-stories and this means they are messy, not easily defined, constantly changing and fundamentally incomplete.


I think I understand what Anne Tyler is doing with this book and I can see that she's doing it well. "A Spool Of Blue Thread" frees itself from the conventions or narrative without falling into the vertiginous giddiness of continuous stream of consciousness. Anne Taylor seems to be setting out not to tell a story but to share the life of a family. She does this exposing us to the family in a variety of situations without establishing a dominant character or allowing the authorial voice to fill in the blanks. She invites you to immerse yourself in the lives of these people and form your own conclusions.


At first I was fascinated. I'd never seen anything like this before. It was like watching Japanese artist bringing an object to life by adding layer after layer of paint and being amazed at the supernaturally bright finish her produces on what started as a simple piece of wood.


Unfortunately, after a while, reading the book became as compelling as watch lacquer dry to a fine finish. I began to understand why fiction and real life differ: real life happens and you make the best of it; fiction is designed to produce a particular effect. Real life is endured. Fiction should be enjoyed.


I stopped reading "A Spool Of Blue Thread" once I realised just how much like real life it was. There were parts of it that grabbed my attention and parts that slipped by me and some it that puzzled me but it wasn't taking me anywhere. In the absence of a narrative thrust, I was stuck on a hamster wheel, watching everyone run in place. I was enduring it, not enjoying it.


So I've set it aside, conscious that I'm giving up on something unique and well crafted in favour of simple entertainment. If I was younger, I might see that as a character flaw. At this stage in my life, it just seems like being realistic about what I want. There are many parts of my life where I have to take things as they come but I'm not going to let reading become one of them.

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