Review – A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Hi,

I recently read Anne Tyler’s novel A Spool of Blue Thread, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

A Spool of Blue Thread
Image provided by Vintage¹

The Whitshank family has been living in the house on Bouton Road for generations, well maybe just two generations, as Red’s father Junior was the one who built the house, and Red’s four children have already moved out. So the only ones living there when things start to get a bit complicated are Red, his wife Abby and their dog.

Anne Tyler takes us on a trip through 20th-century Baltimore, from the 1920s up until the 21st century. We get to know each generation and therefore understand why the characters act the way they do.

Two prominent characters are Denny and Stem’s wife Nora. We don’t however get a very close look at them. They are both introvert characters and Tyler keeps them at distance by not telling the reader what goes on underneath their facade.

As the plot follows Junior and Linnie Whitshank from their hometown to Baltimore, we see them struggle and move into the house on Bouton Road. Their children Merrick and Red grow up there and get married one after the other, until it’s Red’s time to live in the house, accompanied by his wife Abby and their children Amanda, Jeannie, Denny and Stem. There is nothing special about the Whitshanks, they are a normal family and so is their life. And even though Tyler writes about everyday life A Spool of Blue Thread isn’t a boring novel. Sure, it might take about 100 pages to get into the book, but as soon as you’re fully acquainted with everyone reading is like meeting up with old friends.

A Spool of Blue Thread won’t hold your attention because of a gripping plot, it is a character-driven novel and Anne Tyler succeeded in creating realistic characters whose lives we follow like old biddies at the coffee table. So if you are generally interested in what your neighbors are up to, you might enjoy A Spool of Blue Thread.

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1100311/a-spool-of-blue-thread/

Halloween Giveaway – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Happy Halloween Everyone!

What are your plans for tonight? Are you going trick-or-treating? I’m baking a very spooky cake and in the evening I’ll transform the waiters at a local bar into scary creatures. 🙂

As I’m in a celebratory mood because of Halloween I thought we might as well do a little giveaway. I’ve been talking a lot about this year’s Man Booker Prize and I’ve even read some long- and shortlisted books (you can find the links below), so I thought let’s celebrate Halloween with someone who has something to celebrate: The Man Booker Prize Winner of 2014 Richard Flanagan and his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

I have to admit that I haven’t read the book yet, but I will do so soon. Penguin Random House UK have been so nice as to offer me five copies of Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize winning novel to give away. Thank you so much!

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Image provided by Random House UK¹
What is the book about?¹

Forever after, there were for them only two sorts of men: the men who were on the Line, and the rest of humanity, who were not.

In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Burma Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

Hailed as a masterpiece, Richard Flanagan’s epic novel tells the unforgettable story of one man’s reckoning with the truth.

Giveaway

Like I’ve said before, you can win one of five copies of Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Please read the Terms & Conditions before entering the giveaway! In the Giveaway Tools form, you will be asked to state what country you come from. I need this information as this is an EU wide giveaway (+ SUI & LIE) with three copies going to winners from German-speaking countries and two copies to winners from any EU countries. The second question will be the very tricky 😉 quiz question. So all you have to do to enter is read the Terms & Conditions and, if you are eligible, do everything Giveaway Tools asks you for. Fingers crossed!

Terms & Conditions:

  • This giveaway is open to residents of all EU countries, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
  • You have to be 16 or older to participate.
  • The giveaway runs from October 31, 2014 until November 7 , 2014.
  • Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
  • Neither Penguin Random House UK nor I are responsible for lost or damaged items. There will be five winners who will each receive one English language copy of Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, sponsored by Penguin Random House UK.
  • Three books are allotted to residents of German-speaking countries (1 book: Austria, 1 book: Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 1 book: Germany). If there is no entry from one of the aforementioned countries, this country’s allotted book will be added to the EU lot.
  • You have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
  • The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
  • The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
  • I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
  • All decisions are final.
Enter the Giveaway
The Man Booker Prize 2014 books I’ve read:

If you like my blog, I would be very happy if you’d come back from time to time! Happy Halloween!

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-north/9780701189051

I won – Beautiful Lies

Welcome back,

Here’s another book I got a few weeks back – Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark. I got this book in a little competition on Vintage’s Twitter Page, where we had to find three differences between the original book cover and an altered book cover. I like games like that. Thank you for the book!

A few updates:

  • My TBR (To Be Read) pile is growing and growing and I’m looking forward to the time after those exams are over 🙂
  • I’ve also recently finished reading Carla Frederico’s Die Rosen von Montevideo and I’m thinking about how I’m gonna solve the problem of writing about a German-language book in an English-language blog. I’ll probably make the blog post bilingual or I’ll make two posts.
  • And I’m still reading A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon and I’m still enjoying it. I’m halfway through but there’s always things that keep me from reading. I hope to finish it after my exams. 🙂

Now on to the book:

DSCN3836

Summary quoted from Random House UK¹:

It is 1887, and an unsettled London prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Maribel, beautiful bohemian wife of maverick political Edward Campbell Lowe and self-proclaimed Chilean heiress educated in Paris, debates how to make her own mark on the world, while experimenting with the new art of photography. However, the wife of an outspoken member of parliament, whose views inspire enmity and admiration in equal measure, should not be hiding the kind of secrets Maribel has buried in her past.

When a notorious newspaper editor beings to take an uncommon interest in her, Maribel fears he will destroy not only Edward’s career but both of their reputations.

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/beautiful-lies/9780099570462