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Summary

From the globally best-selling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Violet is 38. The First World War took everything from her. Her brother, her fiancé – and her future. She is now considered a ‘surplus woman’. But Violet is also fiercely independent and determined. Escaping her suffocating mother, she moves to Winchester to start a new life –a change that will require courage, resilience and acts of quiet rebellion. And when whispers of another world war surface, she must live with a secret that could change everything....

©2019 Tracy Chevalier (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Bittersweet...dazzling." (Guardian)

"Deeply pleasurable...the ending made me cry." (The Times)

"Told with a wealth of detail and narrative intensity." (Penelope Lively)

What listeners say about A Single Thread

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A Rewarding Read by one of Our Very Best Narrators

Take to this audio/book without doubt. I bought the hard back novel and the audiobook on speculation having read several Chevalier novels before. Sad to say I was initially dubious and left them in my library. A very foolish mistake. As soon as I entered the novel it was involving and thoroughly absorbing. Fenella Woolgar is a narrator I simply cannot fault; she could narrate a book of recipes for me. I think it has now come to the point that her commissions largely endorse the book. On the novel, it is a measured progression with interest, challenges, interesting characters, surprises. It is wholly satisfying and the various rebellions seeming just. I resisted looking up the various needlepoint stiches whilst reading (or the bell ringing aspects) but that can come. Both, however, raise the question, "Why didn't I know that?" and spur to taking greater attention on visiting places. I liked the homage to volunteers, and the sense of people finding ways to make a lasting mark. The novel pricks the conscience on what we take for granted. The novel is assured. It is also cinematic and can easily see it being taken up for the screen. Enjoy without the prospect of regret.

25 people found this helpful

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singleness post-war Winchester

If you like your books full of thrill and gore and action -this is not for you. If you like an immersive, thoughtful and evocative read this one is all those things. Tracy Chevalier is consistent in her quality of writing and variety of settings. The story focuses on Violet Speedwell, a single woman in her late 30's who is under the thumb of her domineering mother. Violet's fiancee died in the war and she has little direction in life. Finally she breaks away from her mother's house and begins a new life in Winchester where she joins the Cathedral broderers.Violet comes into contact now with a range of people from different backgrounds who challenge the way she has been raised and the stereotypes of women at this time. The power of the story is in the slowly unfolding confidence of this woman and the smallmindedness of those around her. It is hard to describe as it is a slow, intricate read but worth it.

10 people found this helpful

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A delightful story

This is a. delightful story, beautifully written, read by a warm, soothing voice.. Set between the wars, the story weaves all the characters, so that we see the effect of the first world war, and the fear of the soon to be Second World War. The struggle of the main charters, at loosing the men in their lives. Really enjoyed this, will certainly be looking for more of this authors work

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent

A most interesting novel, so visual, emotive, and charming it lead me on a journey of complete admiration for its carefully crafted heroine. I loved its gentle pace. And it so beautifully read, that the text echoes on long after you have finished listening.

4 people found this helpful

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Engrossing and captivating

I loved this story so much. I had never heard of the surplus generation as named in this novel, but it certainly made me sympathise with this group of women who were unmarried in Post WW1 England and how they were treated by society and their own families was appalling. I loved the main character Violet, and all the details about embroidery and bell ringing. I couldn’t stop listening, The narrator is excellent at different accents. A stunning novel. Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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lovely tale

very moving enjoyed this novel. it's delivery is delicate and gentle, very moving and timeless.

3 people found this helpful

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Very well read but...

I enjoyed the characters and the meticulous research into the details of the period. However, the denouement left me wondering if Ms Chevalier had run out of patience with the attitudes and mores of the 1930s and had bundled something together to satisfy modern readers.

3 people found this helpful

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Flawed

Tracy (Girl with a Pearl Earring) Chevalier has researched 1930s southern England meticulously and her eye for domestic (not political) detail is faultless, from fish paste sandwiches to the bleak oppression of a boarding house. She creates the life of 38year-old Violet Speedwell with gentle respect and understanding. Violet's brother and fiance had died in Flanders 12 years previously, and only now can she make the brave break from her grieving, petulant, manipulative and demanding mother to make a life for herself as a poorly paid typist in Winchester. It's here that she finds solace with the Broderers in Winchester Cathedral, a group of women who have learned to embroider the stunning designs on the kneelers. Violet becomes one of the 'threads' of this ancient, reverential art - and falls in love with one of the skilled Cathedral bell-ringers, 60 year-old Arthur who lives with his sickly wife who is terminally grieving for their son lost in WW1. There is a great deal about the intricate patterns of stitches. literal and metaphorical, which make up Violet's life, and about the technicalities of the bell-ringing which draw Violet and Arthur wordlessly together. The slices of single women's lives are painstakingly observed, but I didn't enjoy this book. Despite all Chevalier's strengths, I was constantly assaulted by her polemic of well-worn women's issues which make her character vehicles and the whole rather tedious.The resolution of the love between Arthur and Violet (I won't spoil it) I found completely incredible for 1932, although I can see it makes a neat ending for the novel. The narration is faultless and totally in sympathy. Fenella Woolgar has a very pleasing voice.

5 people found this helpful

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thought provoking

a different kind of book for me , I found it compelling and relaxing @ the same time, although set in an earlier time I recognized it as in my early days growing up with grandparents.

2 people found this helpful

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The highlight of my day!

I listened to this book on my walks up to the common during lockdown. The narrator is brilliant, & I found myself both invigorated from my walk & relaxed by her soothing tones, quite an addictive combination. I wanted to listen to this book because I'm interested in embroidery & its history, and the story woven around the historical bits kept me enthralled right the way through. I look forward to more of Tracy Chevalier's books as well as more of Fenella Woolgar's narration.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 19-10-19

Story is wooden and predictable

I'm so sorry to say that Tracy Chevalier has run out of juice. I won't be buying another of her books. Every plot and sentence of this thing was so predictable I was practically mouthing the words. Beautifully read, however.