Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize
“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . .” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. 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, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.
Brimming with all the insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.
Anne Tyler, an American novelist, is also an author of short stories and is a literary critic. She has had 22 novels published, being cited in literary publications as creating fully developed characters and commended for her accurate attention to detail. Some of her more well-known novels are: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and A Spool of Blue Thread. She has been compared to John Updike, Jane Austin, and Eudora Welty.
Tyler was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, as the oldest of four children to a chemist Dad and a social worker Mother. They were Quakers who lived in a series of Quaker communes, one being formed by conscientious objectors, as Anne was age 7 through 11. Her practical, hands on education was supplemented by correspondence school. Her first short stories, she told to herself under the covers at 3 years of age, to try to get sleepy. Her favorite book was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and had a profound influence on her ability to show "how the years flowed by, people altered, and nothing could ever stay the same". Her early perception of changes over time appear and reappear in Tyler's novels, just as her favorite book, The Little House, appears in her first novel.
Tyler considered herself to be an outsider in public schools, but also attributed that same feeling as having been a valuable asset in her writing success. Her other credit is given to a former high school English teacher, Phillis Peacock. Seven years after high school, Tyler dedicated her first published novel to "Mrs. Peacock, for everything you've done".
Tyler has won many literary awards including a Pulitzer. She remains closely associated with the city of Baltimore, Maryland, her home since 1967, and is the location used in many of her books. Her husband died in 1997, and their two daughters have gone on to careers in the arts.