Author(s): Anne Tyler
'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 day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They've all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself. From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we also see played out our own hopes and fears, rivalries and tensions of families - the essential nature of family life. "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).
When you first read Anne Tyler's fiction, you could wonder why so many well-respected authors shower her with so many superlatives. Tyler's style is simple, home-grown somehow, yet there's a layer of observational depth, like the subtle mannerisms of a good actor, which sharpens each character. A Spool of Blue Thread is set, like all her previous 19 novels, in her hometown of Baltimore. It weaves the tale of an unremarkable family, the Whitshanks, across three generations within one house. It is a quiet window onto the changing priorities in life as we age: the misunderstandings and forgettings, the innocuous decisions that shape lives, the black sheep weaving in and out over the years. Less quirky than previous novels, A Spool of Blue Thread touches you with moments of empathy and recognition. I confess to owning all the novels Anne Tyler has written, and am sorry this is said to be her last. If you want to try another of her novels, Digging to America, A Patchwork Planet, Breathing Lessons(Pulitzer Prize winner) or Morgan's Passingstand out from her earlier work. - Maclean
No one does family like Anne Tyler does family -- sink into the funny, true, joy of her new novel
Shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and The Beginner's Goodbye. In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English' and she has recently received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime's achievement in books.