Anne Tyler is one of my favourite author's and no one does family stories like Tyler. A spool of blue thread explores three generations of the the Whitshank family and the house that they have lived in.
We spool back and forth through the history of the family and the house, picking up the stories and seeing what has made the them the people they are. We see snapshots of their lives over the years - key moments that don't seem to be that at the time but shape their lives. Those lives are directed down particular paths because of a small decision and isn't that true of all our lives?
The story begins with Abby & Red, who are growing older, and the impact that this starts to have on their own children and grandchildren. They struggle to understand their youngest child, Denny, who drops in and out of their lives with no warning and the impact that this has on his siblings. Abby worries about her children and especially Denny - whilst Red says it is possible to care too much - isn't this what parents do though?
Junior, or Junie, and Linnie Mae, Red's parents form the middle part of the novel, Junior built the house for another family but it his ideal home - but like all ideals when it becomes his real home, it never quite lives up to his expectations - in fact in typical Tyler fashion, Junior's life never really lives up to his dreams.
Abby & Red's children Amanda, Jeannie, Stem & in particular Denny have to work out what to do as their parents get older. Tyler explores the reality that all children face when they realise that they are going to have to take on responsibility for parents as well as children.
The Whitshanks are believable characters with faults and failings, there are moments of great sadness but also laugh out loud moments in this book. It is sad to think that Anne Tyler has said that this is going to be her final novel - but it is a wonderful one to leave on.
If you have never read any Anne Tyler this would be a great one to begin with - and then go and explore all her other wonderful books.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough - it is a gem!
I received a copy of this from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review