Thursday, June 1, 2017
A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
The Whitshank family is a typical Baltimore family, one of blue-collar workers whose hard work has brought them success. Red is the head of his own construction firm while Abby was a social worker. Their four children are grown now and Abby and Red are slowing down as they age into their sixties. Although the children are grown, that doesn't mean there are no more sibling issues. There are resentments about who is doing more, which child was loved most, and who will help with their parents as everyone realizes that the couple may not be able to live alone much longer.
The novel veers back and forth in time over the family's ages. We get the backstory of Red's parents and how they overcame a scandal and the Depression to come to Baltimore from the hill country to carve out a living. We learn how Abby and Red fell in love. We learn that even with decades of marriage, there are still secrets in the family that threaten its stability as they are revealed. We also learn about the fourth generation of Whitshanks who are Red and Abby's grandchildren.
Anne Tyler is a recognized master at character development. Almost all of her books are set in Baltimore and most unravel the complexities of family life and the relationships that both sustain and threaten us. We see how families react to various events, how they are formed and what pressures can split them apart. A Spool Of Blue Thread was a Man Booker nominee as well as an Orange Prize nominee. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in families and their relationships.