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“A Spool of Blue Thread” is Anne Tyler’s 20th novel. It is a story of an American family that believes certain “myths” about itself and how this family becomes more a story of the many versions of their reality both past and present.
In outward appearances the Whitshanks are a loving, boisterous family.
The novel is really three narratives: Red and Abby’s later years up to 2012, when they first met in 1959, and when Junior and Linnie Mae, (Red’s parents) fell in love under controversial circumstances in the late 1920s.
Four generations, – Junior and Linnie Mae; Abby, Red and Merrick, Abby and Red’s children; and their grandchildren – are explored largely inside this Baltimore house on Bouton Road. Ms. Tyler writes about the ebb and flow of their everyday lives as the story travels back and forth in time. The author gradually dismantles their myth-making but does so with compassion.
Over the course of this novel, the reader gets to know every family member in detail and how their lives unfold in and around the sprawling old house that is their anchor. The deeper narrative is about how families survive and endure, a story of love and family dynamics.
Ann Tyler is a Pulitzer Prize winner.