A Spool of Blue Thread
by Anne Tyler
2015/ 368 pages
read by Kimberly Farr 13h 23m
rating 6.5 (enjoyed parts of it) / contemp fiction
February is the month of rereads I guess. This is the 4th! A Spool of Blue Thread is for another reading group – first read was back in April – like 175 books or so ago – and my not remembering exactly is not to worry about. lol
Tyler is not a favorite author but she’s okay. I’ve read maybe a half-dozen of her priors. This one made it to the Booker Short List this year so maybe there’s more to it than I understood the first round. See: https://beckylindroos.wordpress.com/042015-2/a-spool-of-blue-thread/ where I gave it a 6.5 – and that was for a reading group, too. (I would never have picked this on my own.)
So what’s here? –
The main theme is that of “home and family” as Abby is trying so hard to make it – All-American, Baltimore – big porch – history. I loathe Abby and her bizzy-body self trying to “fix” her family. Red is no better – he’s always tinkering with the house. The house is certainly a “character” – the source of heritage, ambition, the giver of life, the holder of family, of love and disappointment and feuds – and it’s something which needs attention – loving attention or it falls apart. The house needs fixing a lot lately, – like the family.
And house and family are completely connected – “In this house we don’t _____.” So “this house really meant ‘this family.'”
And “the family,” as a whole, including the house, is certainly a character and almost more than the individuals in it at times. “Everyone was missing him. Everyone saw the difference. Everyone was irritated.” That goes on and on. Sometimes someone has a difference of opinion but that’s not usual. Except for Denny – Denny has problems. He doesn’t feel like he really fits in the family although the house is apparently useful to him. Sometimes he outdoes himself and helps the family with something.
But we rarely glimpse the family outside the home – they really are of one place. There is a brief section where they go to the beach for a week or something and although they have done this for years they don’t even know the neighbors who have been doing the same thing.
About 2/3rds of the way through there is a switch to the patriarch of the family and his wife – J.R. and Lenny – Red’s parents who built the house and made the family in the first place. This part is hilarious at times, but it really shows a different sort of family – there’s no Americana Hallmark card about this one – but some folks were trying even then.