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Summary

The Sunday Times best seller

Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize

Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Fiction prize

A Richard and Judy Book Club pick

"It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon..."

This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that summer’s day in 1959. The whole family on the porch, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before.

From that porch we spool back through the generations, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define the family. 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 twenty-first century - four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their home....

©2015 Anne Tyler (P)2015 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"She’s changed my perception on life." (Anna Chancellor)
"One of my favourite authors." (Liane Moriarty)
"She spins gold." (Elizabeth Buchan)
"Anne Tyler has no peer." (Anita Shreve)
"My favourite writer, and the best line-and-length novelist in the world." (Nick Hornby)
"A masterly author." (Sebastian Faulks)
"Tyler is not merely good, she is wickedly good." (John Updike)
"I love Anne Tyler." (Anita Brookner)
"Her fiction has strength of vision, originality, freshness, unconquerable humour." (Eudora Welty)
"Anne Tyler is one of my favourite writers and this is a delicious book" (Rachel Joyce)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not For Me

I love many of Anne Tyler's books and have read almost of them I think. But this is the second audio book of hers I have bought and I didn't enjoy either of them. Maybe I chose the wrong books, or maybe they work better for me 'in my head' rather than being read to.

I see from the reviews of this recording that views are polarized - but several reviewers said they found it boring and so did I.

The gentleness of her writing and skillful character drawing are both present in this book - the problem really began with me realizing about 25% of the way in, that I didn't like any of the characters she had drawn, except maybe one of Abby's daughters. The elder son just annoyed me, as did the family's rather pathetic 'fear' of him and his casually nasty behaviour. Then we veered off into a distant back-story...I was bored by this point and I considered abandoning it, but I kept going.

The story goes back and forth and though there are some plot twists, nothing much really happens. I don't usually mind that, as long as the journey is rewarding but for me, it was not.

The narration was OK; it did seem to match the dull, rather whiny tone of the book. No-one was ever really happy it seemed; but no-one was unhappy enough to tackle it. So the family, much like the book, just drift.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Seamless Sewing at it's Best!

I absolutely loved this book in all its multi-layered glory.Kimberly Farr does an exquisite job of the narration, each character's voice clearly resounding, making the story come alive. I won't talk about the plot as it would spoil Ann Tyler's twists and turns, but the writing is beautiful and the characters take on a life of their own. Suffice to say that if you purchase this book you won't regret it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well worth the listen.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Itntook me a little whilento get intomit but gradually I was drawn in completely. The narrator enhanced my experience as her voice was so interesting to listen to.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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GREAT FAMILY SAGA

Would you consider the audio edition of A Spool of Blue Thread to be better than the print version?

I have not read the book. I prefer audible books because they are performed. I do not have to read and imagine. I can just listen and see.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Spool of Blue Thread?

The moment when the relevance of the spool of blue thread is revealed. This author is exceptional. I was moved without a point being hammered home.

What about Kimberly Farr’s performance did you like?

A good narrator. Made me believe the story and the characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

I got really absorbed in this book and recommend to anyone who enjoys a good family drama. It was thought provoking and emotionally charged. Anne Tyler is skilled contemporary writer, offering a humorous, moving and clever tale, woven back and forth across different generations. The narrator did a good job of bringing the characters to life .

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • LS
  • 08-10-15

Utterly gorgeous!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have loved to listen to it all in one setting but it's very long. It's like a long luxurious bath or a delicious meal. This is a tale of family life - very descriptive of the location and the characters.

Any additional comments?

I listened to this on holiday - very soothing and relaxing

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Nothing much happens

I had to read this for a book club meeting. I found the book hard to get into so I bought it on Audible because I was going on a long journey. It passed the time but nothing really happened. I won't be reading any more books by this author.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Unwinding

I don't have too much to say about this one other than that I really, really, really liked it.

I've not read any Anne Tyler before but she was recommended to me by a friend, so when I saw this in a sale I snapped it up. I'm so glad I did.

This book tells the life story of an extended family who are a perfectly normal family in as much as there is such a thing (I'm pretty sure there isn't). The characters aren't exceptional people but they are exceptionally well developed and written. They became so real to me that I kept forgetting this was fiction!

Tyler's writing is nothing short of beautiful. She has a rhythmic, lyrical prose style that sucked me in and wouldn't let go. I'll definitely be reading more of her work. Everything comes together perfectly and I found myself deeply moved in a number of places. I'll admit it; there were tears!

If, like me, you read a lot of fantasy, horror and science fiction but occasionally like to read about a world that's a little closer to the one you actually live in, you could do worse than to give this a try.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Spool of blue thread

I loved it. Beautifully crafted writing and well read. It wouldn't suit anyone who likes a fast moving plot but if you enjoy the intricacies of family relationships, it's for you

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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lovely, funny, warm and nicely written story

I enjoyed this book very much. read printed version and bought audiobook as loved book so much. It was my first book of this author but not last for sure.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Heather
  • 28-11-15

Superb

A deep and rich evocation of family. Anne Tyler creates yet another wonderful world full of the details that make fiction seem even more vivid than life. A writer at the peak of her imaginative powers sharing with us her wisdom and insight on the frailty and wonder of what it means to belong to the people we are related to.

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  • BanksiaMama
  • 17-06-15

Great!

Ah, Tyler does it again! So satisfying and complete. Heart filled and sweeping extended family drama with unexpected forays and a good ending.