Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
A Spool of Blue Thread doesn’t have a traditional plot arc or straight through storyline, but after twenty novels Anne Tyler knows exactly what she’s doing and I was completely hooked. Set in Baltimore the novel follows four generations of the Whitshank family, originally from an impoverished county in the rural south they’ve been working their way up the social class ladder, but their story feels intimate rather than broad or sweeping. The Whitshanks are a close, ordinary family--mostly loving, sometimes fractious--and their idiosyncrasies, distinct personalities, long held secrets, and personal dramas unfold as the plot moves back and forth in time.
The genuineness of the characters made me care about them immensely. They aren’t revealed with a lot of explicit descriptions, but just as in life I came to know them over time through how they acted and what they said, and the luminous realism of the story extends to its setting. I live near Baltimore, whose streets Tyler obviously knows well, and several recent weather events--the 2012 derecho and Hurricane Sandy--became pivotal points of the plot.
While not sugar-coated or simplistic A Spool of Blue Thread celebrates family connections. The conclusion is satisfying, both heartbreaking and heartwarming, but it doesn’t wrap everything up neatly and sweetly, keeping the Whitshanks alive in my mind and letting me wonder what they’ll do next.