Saturday, 25 July 2015

52 Books in 52 Weeks, week 29

A Spool Of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler is  a book I had my eye on for a few months. I knew the waiting list in the local library was quite long, and rather craftily I was fairly sure my friend would pass on her copy to me. And she did. It was worth waiting for.

                                                                       thread from nana
                                                          darning thread from granny

A Spool Of Blue Thread is the archetypal American family story, stretches from the late 1950s when Abby and Red Whitshank fell in love. Even their names tell of 1950s America. A small town, good hard working folk, a tight knit family. Except Red's parents had come to their fairly prosperous lifestyle and good home the hard way, through the school of hard knocks. They never quite felt accepted in the "good" part of time, but life was easier for Red and Abby.

Red and Abby have reached their sixties, time for them to be taking things a bit easier, handing over the control of the family business to their children. Maybe downsizing. The family meet to decide how this is done for the best. They all work together, yet like all families they all have their own needs and the differences of childhood are still the differences of adulthood.

And through it all, a spool of blue thread, the thread of life that holds things together even when they begin to unravel. The spool of blue thread owned by Abby the mother, the life force who holds the family together, even when they don't realise it.

Strangely enough, just after finishing this books, I found a spool of blue thread in my dresser. A wooden spool of blue thread many decades old, taken from our nana's sewing box. A spool of blue thread that will be treasured by us, put on display, stroked but not used, except for very very special sewing. Or was it from granny's work box? No definitely nana's, in any case it will be treasured.

And this book will be passed on too. It came from my friend from junior school and will be passed on to my friend Anne, a friend from  adulthood and early days of our children. Neither friend has met each other, but they both weave through my life and so inadvertently through each others. Isn't that profound?

My catch up book from last week was Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym. I have read a few of these books, modern classics they are now. They still have their humour and have lasted well, apart from one tiny thing. They were written in a time of them and us, the class structure, albeit with an often ironic turn of phrase. Now there is no more them and us, is there? Or is it that as each generation climbs up the social scale the gap still remains? There is one particularly funny bit where Jane is witty about being in love with your husband. I really did mean to write it down, it is on a right hand page, but I forgot. If you read this book, watch out for this bit. It's very funny.

Helen xx
Linking up with 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge.


  1. You are very profound (doesn't that word look odd written down?) Now I'm sounding like Miranda. Thank you for introducing me to Barbara Pym, I am loving 'Some Tame Gazelle' with all those dreamy clergymen and will read 'Jane and Prudence' next, will look out for your quote! X

  2. Helen, what a lovely post! I love Barbara Pym, and Anne Tyler - great to hear your thoughts on the latest one.

  3. I finished the first Inspector Montalbano book yesterday. Good. Different style of writing/translation, and interesting being set in Sicily. Love that! This one looks good too - will check it out!


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