A Spool of Blue Thread

A Spool of Blue Thread

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions, must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red's father. Brimming with the luminous insight, humour, and compassion that are Anne Tyler's hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories, and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario :, Bond Street Books, Doubleday Canada,, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780385683425
Characteristics: 357 pages ;,25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 29, 2019

This novel was very disappointing, going back and forth on history and current events. So mind boggling. I would not recommend this anyone. YUK

Dec 23, 2018

Prose. A poignant saga all about the full emotional range that we experience as part of a family.
Need to read.

Aug 04, 2018

I lost interest ...read up to about pg 75, ...so, closed it and returned to the library.

DBRL_IdaF Apr 12, 2018

Nobody captures the nuances of family relationships like Anne Tyler.

Red and Abby Whitshank have raised four children in the Baltimore family home built by Red's father. Red also runs the construction company started by his father.

When Red begins to experience trouble with his heart, and Abby develops trouble with her memory, their grown children must make decisions about how best to help. Long-suppressed secrets and rivalries are finally faced as the family copes (not all that well) with the situation.

Tyler does a fabulous job balancing serious issues with the humor of everyday life, while portraying human beings in all of their complicated glory.

Sep 25, 2017

The reference to the title comes at the very end of the book but it is clear what it stands for. The book deals with three generations of Whitshanks and their lives and the upheavals they go through. It starts with Abby and Red and the challenges they face as they age. it is nice to see their family responding and yet the problems ensuing are ones that we can all relate to. The time switching from one era to another makes for interesting reading. The characters in the book are very well sketched. as are the descriptions of the locales.

Jul 31, 2017

Anne Tyler's "Spool of Blue Thread" shouldn't be a page turner, since it's "just" a story of three generations of a family fairly calmly living their lives. Yet I read it in one sitting and mostly loved it. Tyler has a wonderful knack of describing places and people, so that you know you've been there, and know what's coming next, and who these people are. I should have been confused by the time switching, but wasn't. The opening scene, when the middle generation is in middle age, is both heartbreaking and hilarious. It tells us a lot about the child who calls to drop a verbal bomb and then hangs up, and about how each parent reacts. This generation loves each other full-heartedly, but they can fight with each other and easily make up. They have two sons (one informally adopted) and two daughters. Abby, the mother, secretly loves Denny, her youngest, the best, even while his teachers are always calling her, and later when they go months without knowing where he is or what he's up to. Red, the father, runs a construction company he inherited from his father, Junior, who always has to explain there's no Senior. Stem, the adopted youngest, works with Red, and everyone assumes he'll inherit the business. The book moves back and forth in time, to Junior and his wife Linnie Mae, ending with the enigmatic Denny. This is perhaps the third of Tyler's books I've read, and so far it's my favorite. Nobody in it's perfect (except Stem's beautiful, boring wife Nora ), but all are interesting. Reading this is like eavesdropping on your most interesting neighbors.

basilbrynn1 May 08, 2017

Story about a family with the usual ups and downs. Accurately portrayed characters but lost interest 2 thirds of the way in.

Apr 19, 2017

I liked this book. I didn't like most of the characters but then I don't think the writer did either.
She did throw in one with whom I could associate and I do thank her for that.

I've known and heard of families like the Whitshanks....one of my children married into one once. Thank god I wasn't usually invited to the gatherings.

I like Anne Tyler's writing. Sometimes one just needs a gently moving family story without murder and mahem and guns and goblins

Sep 08, 2016

This is a completely character driven book. If you are someone who wants some action in your reading, this book may not be for you. If you are someone who appreciates well developed characters, then place your hold now. This is a very nice story that unfolds gently through the everyday comings and goings of the Whitshank family. I became quite attached to this family by the end of the book. A very comforting read.

Jul 25, 2016

This was my first Anne Tyler book. I really enjoyed the dysfunctional family!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jun 02, 2016

"'There is no such things as 'too understanding'."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at my library

To Top