Regular price: $37.46

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – love a book or swap it for free
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $16.45/month
OR
In Basket

Publisher's 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    18
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    14
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

An excellent and intriguing story of an ordinary family.

Spans across generations to show what makes us who we are.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and engaging read

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

I have only listened to the audio edition

Who was your favorite character and why?

Linnie Mae, I think because of her innocence at some level and her strength to follow through with her love for Junior no matter what - I saw her as a strong character who did not succumb to Junior's authority but worked her wishes around the relationship.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Many, the swing on the porch story! There was also a lovely point where Abbey is welcomed by Linnie in the kitchen.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Not sure really

Any additional comments?

I would have liked the book to have developed the characters further, I would have liked to hear Nora's voice, what were her thoughts, I would have liked to have heard more of Denny's voice - the ending seemed to leap and be a bit hurried. I think there could have been more development of the overall story to bring it together a bit more some aspects seem to be brushed over so why where they in the story - on the other hand, is this not what families are like over time, some people are not remembered as well to all members and their lives are hidden for no special reason other than what some people focus on as having meaning to them.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not Anne Tyler's best work

Kinda blanked out for long periods and was looking forward to it being over. Which is very rare for me and my audio books. Tyler has always been one of my all time favorites and this was a disappointment.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story about the nuances of family

I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but although this is my first Anne Tyler book, it definitely won’t be the last. Two things enticed me to read A Spool of Blue Thread – the gorgeous cover and the fact that it was longlisted (and now shortlisted) for the Baileys Prize. I think I need to thank the Baileys Prize for such a stunning longlist this year, as it’s been the best ever for me in terms of finding new authors that I adore.

I listened to A Spool of Blue Thread in the car and it almost had me hoping I’d end up in a traffic jam so I could listen to more. The story is so good that I just wanted to devour the whole thing (perhaps binge listen is the right term). Kimberly Farr’s narration is spot on and I’m always impressed by narrators that can produce different nuances of speech for each character. She is Abby, Red, Junior, Stem, Denny and Nora. My only critique of the audiobook is that I don’t know how some of the characters’ names are spelled – is it Linney Mae or Linnie Mae? Jeanie or Jeannie? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Anne Tyler has taken one family with its own quirks and skeleton (no matter how much they try to hide them) and created a wonderful story over three generations of the Whitshank family that is never dull. It’s comical, sad, thought provoking and downright crazy at times, but it shows the love that the family have for each other.

Of course, no family is perfect (even though Junior, Red’s father, did try to build the perfect house). The story opens as Red and Abby, now elderly, get a phone call from black sheep son Denny. He says he’s gay – maybe. The family aren’t sure if they’ve heard correctly. Denny’s an enigma to the rest of the open Whitshanks – he doesn’t live nearby, doesn’t have a steady job (they think) and doesn’t really partake in family gatherings wholeheartedly. The Whitshanks are pretty damn hot in their own eyes – it’s not flaunted, but the family are secure in their love for each other. But it’s not as simple as that. There’s Stem, who was taken in as an orphan and his wife Nora, who the family see as a bit different. But daughters Jeannie and Amanda have their own issues with their Hughs (love that Anne Tyler took what happens so commonly in real families, that two people have the same name) and Denny’s life isn’t that straightforward. But now Abby and Red are getting old – Abby’s memory isn’t too good and Red is getting frail. Will the family bond over this?

We also learn more about the previous generation of Whitshanks – Junior and Linnie Mae. How did Junior go about acquiring such a grand house in Baltimore? How did he and Linnie Mae meet?: How did Red and Abby meet? It’s a wonderful journey across the generations proving that no family is ever straightforward or boring. And as for the Whitshank house…it sounds amazing. (How dare that real estate agent complain so much?) It was built with love and an aim for perfection, just like the family.

Anne Tyler’s prose is wonderful, enveloping and warm. She tells simple things so well, with honesty and an eye for the detail of families – long buried grudges, adult siblings that can still bicker and the bonding that occurs during hard times. This is a wonderful read and I’m crossing my fingers it wins the Baileys Prize this year.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Heather
  • 28-11-2015

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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • BanksiaMama
  • 17-06-2015

Great!

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