October 19

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

I have not read anything by Anne Tyler since The Accidental Tourist, and let me tell you, after finishing this book, I am the emotionally poorer for it apparently. I have been seriously missing out and therefore want to race out and buy everything she has ever written. My bank balance is about to take a real hit.

Fickle admission…..I fell in love with this book first up because of the cover. I actually didn’t care if the book was crap. I was prepared to have it simply to gaze at on my desk (of course knowing it was Anne Tyler I was pretty confident my investment might have some return but all books, regardless of author, are a gamble).


Just.Look.At.That.Cover – it’s gorgeous. Oh, to be that girl in the car – but enough about me, let’s talk about The Whitshanks, the American family this book is about.

Tyler spins literary gold in these pages and I was hooked from the get-go, trawling through the lives and times of this average, everyday family, who, like every family, are not so average at all.

Each of the characters, across three generations, brim with such life they feel as if they are elbowing their way off the page toward you (thank you Sunday Times for this description – couldn’t have said it better myself).

It is set in Baltimore under the roof of the sprawling Whitshank house which Tyler cleverly makes a character in its own right. It proves to be a strong, stable fortress for its inhabitants over the decades and is packed to the rafters with stories and secrets.

First up we are introduced to the current residents, Red and Abby Whitshank, their children and their grandchildren before travelling back to the 1920s to get to know Red’s parents, Junior and Linnie Mae Whitshank – and oh Lordy, isn’t their story a real humdinger!

Junior actually built the house himself (for the Brill family but he ended up with it – long story so buy the book) and he poured himself into every nook and cranny so it’s importance in this story is substantial. And, it really sets the tone about who dear Junior is.

The entire story is told with such sweeping vision you feel as if you have entered the pages yourself. I was right there, sitting on the porch swing (like the house, the swing gets its own chapter – and for good reason), gently rocking, being amused by the parade of beaus, the family, their friends and foes as they meander in and out of the house. ‘This will be interesting,’ I tutted to myself as a few of them showed up. They’re all intoxicating – you just can’t take your attention from them.

This one is worth every penny for the beautiful cover and for every single, beautiful word inside it. So up you get, grab all your money and head to your local bookshop and get this and every other book Anne Tyler has written….because Readheads, don’t we all want our life savings where we can see it – on our book shelves?

But that is just my 2 cents worth.