Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Man Booker Short-List Review: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.


Book: A Spool of Blue Thread

Author: Anne Tyler

Pages: 440

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3-4 days

Plot Summary: "It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon." This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family—their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog—is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: 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, humor, 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.

General Thoughts: Another one from the Booker Shortlist of 2015, this one sounded good to me. I am a sucker for family stories and throw in generations of the same family and I am all in! I had never heard of Anne Tyler...and I am glad this book got nominated for the Booker so I discovered a new writer. I am definitely going to pick more of her books and boy! she has so many books out! :)

This isn't the most literary book and it was a little surprising to see this nominated for a major literary prize, but I really loved the book. It was a soothing, calming and happy read.

Things I Like: 

1. The writing was really good. Easy to read long and immersive and really brought this family alive. So good!

2. Family stories and family dynamics are some of my favourite things to read about and this book was full of family equations, little struggles, fights, love, loyalty and changes a family goes through over the years. And I loved every single thing about it.

3. The book follows an interesting structure with regards to time-line. It's non-linear for sure, for it also jumps back and forth and this was done well and made for a good reading experience. The book starts in 1994, comes up to present day and then jumps to 1958 and then back to 1920s and then back to present day again and all of it was so good.

4. I liked this family. All generations of it and since the book is all about them this was a critical thing.

5. All of the characters were well-crafted and all of them, especially the main ones- Abby, Red, Denny and the older family members were very well-written and memorable.

6. I liked all of the time periods and enjoyed them equally.

7. The little love story- Abby and Red was sweet and unexpectedly real.

8. The challenges of senior citizens and how life and old age robs you of so many things you take for granted was so poignant but not shown with dramatic and over sentimentality.

9. I really liked the end of this book and the unexpected 'love-story' of the Red's parents. I loved how what seems like 'true-love' and 'star-crossed' love to one person is the total opposite to another. A marriage that seems like a love match to one person can be a compromise and 'settling' for another.

10. I loved, really loved the reason for the title of the book. I won't go into details since it's kinda a spoiler-ish. I was wondering, as the book was drawing to the end what the significance of the title could possibly be and in the end...we find out and I loved that little anecdote.

11. Through the course of the book we find out about the history of this family house and you get to care about this house and feel sad by the end of the novel when it ends up empty.

12. All of the time periods covered in the book were captured so well.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. The daughters of Red and Abby were a tad bit under-developed. They both have husbands called Hugh and by the end of the book I couldn't really even tell them apart. While Denny and Stem are very fleshed out and memorable, the daughters are not nearly as well-written.

2. There is so much of Denny mentioned in the book, from the very beginning in fact. I was hoping for a chapter or two from his perspective. Till the very end he remains a mystery and enigma and we don't really get to know what the deal with him is. I wish we had found out a little bit more about him.

Rating: 5/5

This was a very satisfying read for me. I read it during Durga Pujo and it was nice to read a book about family during the festive time and a time when I was spending a lot time with my family. This isn't a perfect book but I enjoyed the time I spend with it. I highly recommend it.




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