Spool of Blue Thread

A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, published by Chatto & Windus.  PA Photo/Chatto & Windus

A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, published by Chatto & Windus. PA Photo/Chatto & Windus

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A Spool Of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler is published in hardback by Chatto & Windus.

Family life in Baltimore is the topic of this wonderful new novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler - her 20th, in fact, making Tyler something of a veteran of literary, compelling fiction. But it’s also rumoured to be her last. Opening on Abby and Red Whitshank’s universally recognisable bedroom, they are fretting about their teenage son, Denny. So begins a scene that is verging on play-like (you can almost imagine two actors perching on either side of the bed, stage centre), but that soon transmutes into a work of fiction so compelling that you’re glad the book is divided into sections, giving you the chance to pause once in a while rather than inhaling in one go. Tyler’s skill lies in making the utterly everyday something special - we follow this family over several generations, skipping back and forth in time, and though they are much like any other, you close the book feeling you’ve been privy to a family that is quite extraordinary.

Review by Emma Herdman