A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler — A Review

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

RaeleighReads Rating: 3 out of 5 coffee cups

“For years, she had been in mourning for the way she had let her life slip through her fingers. Given another chance, she’d told herself, she would take more care to experience it. But lately, she was finding that she had experienced it after all and just forgotten, and now it was returning to her.”

Meh. I don’t really know where to go with this one. The book wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t really bad. I didn’t find it particularly interesting, but neither did I find it particularly uninteresting.

A Spool of Blue Thread is well-written, well-structured, and well, had decently crafted characters. The plot? Ummm, there really wasn’t one. This book follows a family through its ups and downs and ins and outs. It moves backward and forward in the family’s timeline, revealing characteristics of particular family members as it goes. The only thing that propels the book forward is that occasionally Tyler will drop a bomb on the otherwise boring, day-to-day motion.

I absolutely hated the character of Denny. He was the square peg in the round hole of this family, and he lived up to all of my expectations as a character, meaning he started out as an irritating jerk and ended as an irritating jerk. I didn’t really care for the matriarch either. Abby seemed equal parts empty-headed and needy. Two things I detest in female characters. Her husband wasn’t much better. Really, all this book confirmed for me is that if you take a snapshot of a “typical American family” (read white, middle-class, religiously ambiguous) you will find that it is essentially pointless. The only meaning to be found here is that human beings tend to stick to one another for no other reason than it seems to make passing the time a bit easier.

Perhaps I’m being a tad simplistic. And perhaps Tyler’s brilliance was simply too subtle for me. It is true you will find in this work, themes about family trials, the difficulty of raising children, classism, love, the harmful nature of secrets, and the relentlessness of time. If those things appeal to you, then perhaps you will enjoy this book. I can take it or leave it.

Some opinions you may find useful:

Some time back, I learned this: you don’t just open a book by Anne Tyler, you enter it. You get introduced to the characters, take up residence with them in their Baltimore neighborhoods, watch them muddle through their challenges and triumphs, and inevitably, feel as if you’re saying a fond farewell to family members when you close the last page.“– Jill on Goodreads

If ever a novelist created the “Every Family” Ms. Tyler has done it.“– H.F. Corbin on Amazon

Some other opinions you may be interested in:

“The title of this book is well represented….think about a spool of thread. It just unwinds and unwinds, there is no highs or lows. When reading A Spool of Blue Thread I kept waiting for the climax, but it never came….it just unwound and unwound. Yes, there were a few minor surprises, but not enough to save this book.”– Rose Mary Achey on Goodreads

Characters were flat. No plot. I read through to the end despite several times wanting to put it down for good. I kept waiting for something to happen and was surprised to come to the end and find that nothing indeed had happened. What a disappointment.“– Mary Jarvis on Amazon



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