A Spool of Blue Thread

  • by Anne Tyler
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"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.

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What the Critics Say

"Tyler show[s] once again that she's a gifted and engrossing storyteller." (Publishers Weekly)
"...Tyler is as fleet and graceful as a skater, her prose as transparent as ice... We get swept up in the spin of conversations, the slipstream of consciousness, and the glide and dip of domestic life, then feel the sting of Tyler's quick and cutting insights into unjust assumptions about class, gender, age, and race... Tyler's long dedication to language and story [is] an artistic practice made perfect in this charming, funny, and shrewd novel of the paradoxes of self, family, and home." (Donna Seaman, Booklist)
"It is wonderful to pick up a novel from a bonafide literary superstar. A Spool of Blue Thread is Anne Tyler's 20th novel and it shows in every flawless sentence... A stunning novel about family life which just rings so true - it depicts the bonds and the tensions, the love and the exasperation beautifully... A terrific novel." (The Bookseller, UK (Book of the Month))
"Narrator Kimberly Farr's experience with character-driven novels is evident from her nuanced performance of this compelling story.... One key to Farr's success with this audiobook is the wide range of emotions she employs to capture the characters' individual temperaments as they cope with marriage, parenthood, aging, and adult sibling rivalry." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Sharp Edge Of Family

It has been years since I have read a book written by Anne Tyler and this is the first one of her books that I have listened to as a recording. What a treat. Kimberly Farr's narration was excellent and added to the positive experience of the novel. I thought the timing and the general tone were perfect. Farr was able to capture the quirkiness and wistfulness of the story and characters beautifully.

Thoughtful, heartbreaking, funny, multidimensional and insightful--the book is beautifully written. I just love the way Tyler describes each scene and paints the picture of the story--filling the book with rich color and detail. The dialogue and family interaction feels real to me and is engaging. All of these elements meld together and make for a wonderful novel. Worth the time spent listening and recommended if you enjoy a quirky multigenerational family saga.

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- Sara "Avid Reader"

Disappointed

As a big fan of Anne Tyler, I was disappointed that I couldn't wait for this book to end. I simply did not find the characters as engaging as I am accustomed to with Tyler's novels and did not find the story compelling either. For the first time, I felt the pace dragged, the story meandered, and the characterization uneven.

The narration didn't help; if anything it reinforced the plodding tempo of the book. Worse, the narrator sounded like a third grade teacher reading to her students.

There are a few Tyler tales I have yet to read, and although I won't delete her from my reading list, I may be a bit more cautious in my next selection.
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- D. Sevener

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-10-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio