A Spool of Blue Thread — Anne Tyler

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel

Are family lives really held together by a fragile thread? Tyler’s exploration of this concept is brilliantly and beautifully executed through the minute details of family life.

And who is the center of the family? Mom? Dad? The wayward brother?

Reading this book creates an urge to jump in and become a part of this family as they work through their lives and sort out the circumstances that threaten their bond.


“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the 21st century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work,¬†A Spool of Blue Thread¬†tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.