I’ve enjoyed a few of Anne Tyler’s books and A Spool of Blue Thread, her latest, is no exception. This story of life, family, and love was wonderful. In it we meet Red and Abby Whitshank who are just an ordinary aging couple but as we get to know them and their extended family we find ourselves being drawn into their joys, upsets, struggles, and even secrets.
Abby is a retired social worker and I adored her character. She’s one of those women who is just kind and seems like the perfect mother and yet she doesn’t always see the problems going on in her own family or with herself. Red, her husband is still going strong working with his construction company and clearly obsessed with keeping the old family home in tip-top shape. Their children, despite being busy with their own lives, are still very much involved with their parents – all except for Denny, the black sheep of the family. Denny likes to live life his way which means traveling all over, getting in scrapes with girls – you know just always looking for trouble it seems. Most troubling to his parents is that he only gets in touch with them when he wants to and for the most part they never really know where he is or what he’s doing.
Despite this when Red has a heart attack the family rallies including Denny. The youngest son, his wife, and children move in with Red and Abby to help out which Denny ends up taking offense to for reasons that come to light as you read. It then becomes apparent that Abby is having issues too as she begins getting confused and having episodes where she wanders away from the house. As the story unfolds family drama abounds with all of them living and trying to get along in the house. Nothing major happens in the novel other than normal family life but that is, in fact, the charm of the novel.
I really enjoyed the book. My only issue was when, halfway through the novel it switched to the past. For me I felt very disconnected because my favorite part of the book was the first half. Still the second part of the story was interesting as well and it is connected to the first part as it’s the same family. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kimberly Farr and she does a fantastic job. She hit the various nuances of this family very well and I really enjoyed listening to her and wouldn’t hesitate to in the future.
Recommended for those who enjoy women’s fiction and family sagas.