Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Spool of Blue Thread” as Want to Read:
A Spool of Blue Thread
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Spool of Blue Thread

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  88,731 ratings  ·  9,934 reviews
A freshly observed, joyful and wrenching, funny and true new novel from Anne Tyler

"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 a
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Bond Street Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  88,731 ratings  ·  9,934 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Spool of Blue Thread
RoseMary Achey
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
The title of this book is well represented....think about a spool of thread. It just unwinds and unwinds, there are no highs or lows.

When reading A Spool of Blue Thread I kept waiting for the climax, but it never just unwound and unwound. Yes, there were a few minor surprises, but not enough to save this book.

This is a great example of a popular author, dynamic publisher's marketing campaign and an attractive cover all working together to create a great deal of noise around a medioc
Emily May
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2015
"The trouble with dying," she'd told Jeannie once, "is that you don't get to see how everything turns out. You won't know the ending."

This book was lovely. That's how I would describe it. I'm not going to sell it as anything it isn't - fans of fast-paced action and fantasy should look elsewhere - because this is a quiet, moving family drama; nothing more or less. And yet, that was more than enough to make this one of my favourite, beautifully-written character studies.

Sometimes there are tho
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some time back, I learned this: you don’t just open a book by Anne Tyler, you enter it. You get introduced to the characters, take up residence with them in their Baltimore neighborhoods, watch them muddle through their challenges and triumphs, and inevitably, feel as if you’re saying a fond farewell to family members when you close the last page.

That’s the beauty of Anne Tyler’s writing. Her characters are quirky, eccentric, and so achingly real that they could step off the page and seamlessly
Ron Charles
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-favorites
The characters in “A Spool of Blue Thread” look like the same Baltimore family members we’ve socialized with for 50 years in Anne Tyler’s fiction. In fact, everything about her new novel — from its needlepointed title to its arthritic plot — sounds worn-out.

So how can it be so wonderful? The funky meals, the wacky professions, the distracted mothers and the lost children — they’re all here. But complaining that Tyler’s novels are redundant is like whining that Shakespeare’s sonnets are always 14
Abby Huff
Oct 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I will be honest and say I did not finish this book. If it takes more than 100 pages for me to get interested it just is not worth the read. The characters were one dimensional and I felt like the story was not going anywhere. It might have eventually but there is to much for me to read to wait.
Elyse  Walters
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just counted......
I own 6 -not yet read paperback books ( thrift book specials or freebies ), by
Ann Tyler, yet "A Spool of Blue Thread" is my very first novel I've read by this
wonderful woman.

I fell in love in Ann Tyler in a more indirect way than most of her fans. Being a late bloomer reader, myself, somehow, I missed her books. ( not intentionally).
But...this is the way I first 'melted' for Ann.

It was 3 years ago...2013: The San Jose Mercury newspaper ran a HUGE 2 full-length spread int
3.5 Stars This novel left me with mixed emotions.....

I liked the well-defined kooky characters.

I liked their descriptively inviting (well built) home.

I liked the surprising turn of events in the second half...and

I liked the significance of the Spool of Blue Thread.


I did not care for the abrupt transitions in time.

I would have liked a faster pace in the storytelling.

I really wanted to know more about Denny's mysterious life.....and

I would have liked a resolution to my many unanswered qu

Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler's latest novel is another thoughtful story about marriage and family, and I cherished it.

A Spool of Blue Thread is about the Whitshank family of Baltimore. The novel covers several generations and different family perspectives, but the heart of the book was with the mother, Abby Whitshank. Abby loves and frets over her children and grandchildren, and she frequently invites strangers over to dinner if she feels they need someplace to go. But Abby is getting forgetful as she gets older,
Diane S ☔
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For many years Anne Tyler has been an excellent observer of human idiosyncrasies, human frailties and in particular of families, good and bad. In this novel we are introduced to the Whitshanks, mother Abby and father Red with their four grown children, at least grown at the beginning of the novel. Like most families, they do not always get along, they have secrets from each other and one doesn't quite want to fit into the family mold.

Delightful, amusing, poignant and so darn realistic. The novel
Jülie ☼♄ 

I hate to say it but I found this book a bit tedious and really hard to get seriously invested in.
It's not that it is badly written, because it isn't, and I had no problem with the just didn't grab me...I kept reading on thinking it will pick up soon, something will happen, but it never really did. Or, when it did, it didn't have any of the emotive elements one would expect to be captivated by.
For the most part I found it only vaguely interesting, a bit like casual eavesdropping o
There is nothing about this book I did not like.

Three generations of the Witshank family is introduced by the author in a low-key, no-frills-no-fuzz manner. They were not outstanding; they did not change the world; but they were the epicenter of what it means to be American.

The story is not linear, and the surprise, or rather mystery, of the family's origin, is delivered in the last part of the book. The narrative is character-driven.

What I take away is that we can all forgive ourselves for be
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lets-get-real, i-said
So tell me what is your favourite comfort food?

We all have them don’t we, that dish we turn to when feeling blue or just wanting to revel in hearth and home. For me that dish has always been beefaroni, not the Chef Boyardee shit, but real homemade beefaroni. Follow up a big dish of that, with warm Dutch apple pie and vanilla ice cream, paired with a glass of the good stuff, slippers on my tootsies and a good book and colour me content and life good.

Reading A Spool of Blue Thread brought these i
Helene Jeppesen
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most beautifully written stories I've read for a long time! It was my first book by Anne Tyler, and it was one of those books that makes me want to immediately go out and get all of her other books. If they're anything like "A Spool of Blue Thread", they are masterpieces!
This is a very simple piece of literary fiction that focuses on its characters and their development. It is about a family of many members whom we gradually get to know. Anne Tyler has structured the storyli
Angela M
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Anne Tyler has done here what she does best , describing perfectly these less than perfect , very ordinary people with their quirks , dramas , secrets and resentments as well as their love for each other . It is so realistic in so many ways. We are able to laugh at the funny and cry at the sad of it all because this family may remind us in some ways of our own or someone's that we know . Who doesn't know a family with a black sheep like Denny ? Who doesn't know what sibling resentments from the
Excellent narration. A nice family saga told over three generations, one that I liked enough. Nuances such as the matriarch thinking her family are quite perfect and having to uphold appearances of the same were interesting. Are families perfect as they appear to be, is there any part of perfect at all? Stories of the oldest generation ending up married after a scandal - what a vixen - and younger generations being a bit screwed up and not knowing what life holds. Poor Denny! I thought for sure ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
Don't you just love to come home from work, slip into your favorite pair of sweats and a teeshirt, and settle into your comfy chair for the evening? This is the feeling I get when reading an Anne Tyler novel. Coming home would be the operative phrase. Pure pleasure.

The inner-workings of a family, the intricate meshing and chafing of grown siblings with leftover feelings from when they were young. It all comes through here. It's a quiet tale, well told.
Glenn Sumi
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler has impressed me again, although initially I didn't think she would.

The first two hundred pages or so of this family saga were merely a moderately entertaining and engaging story of the Whitshanks, an elderly Baltimore couple. Abby occasionally has spells of forgetfulness, while husband Red is losing his hearing. What's to be done? Should one of their children come look after them in their handsome house?

The couple have so many children – three biological and one adopted – as well as
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
4.5 stars This book was such a pleasant surprise. I almost didn’t read it, not for any particular reason other than it just didn’t sound that interesting to me. But I’d heard alright reviews and after it being longlisted for the Man Booker prize this year I decided to give it a try. And wow, what a fantastic reading experience!

I went the audiobook route for this one, and it was definitely worth it. It’s about 13 hours long, but it just breezed by. Kimberly Farr narrates and does a fantastic job
Emily B
Another easy listening audiobook!

This one just didn’t come together for me. The jumps between the times and generations didn’t work and I couldn’t see a clear reason for it. Some of the important events/feelings weren’t explored enough or explained.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though I've read all of Tyler, I wasn't hurrying to read this one for some reason. An online group discussion of it next month prompted my doing so now, and I'm glad I did. As if in a pleasurable breeze, the pages flew by, especially during Part One, which is actually the majority of the book. At points I felt like I was reading about my own family, even to the extent that we've recently gone through and are going through some of the same events. I found Abby and Red's daughters not as delineate ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Anne Tyler's books and this was no exception. As usual she takes us into the lives of an extended family and with very little story but lots of conversation makes the characters into people we know well and are happy to share time with. The pace of the book is slow but infinitely rich in detail and information about the family member's relationships and experiences. I found myself as keen to get back to reading it as I ever am with a fast paced action thriller! I must also add tha ...more
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nosey people like me who want to know what really goes on in that one house in the street
When you finish a book in the early hours of the morning and suddenly start crying you know it's a good one! This just touched my heart in so many ways.

"And time... Well you know about time. How slow it is when you're little and how it speeds up faster and faster once you're grown. Well now it's just a blur. I can't keep track of it anymore! But it's like time is sort of balanced. We're young for such a small fraction of our lives, and yet our youth seems to stretch on forever. Then we're ol
Charles Finch
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My USA today review.


By my count I've now reviewed around 50 books for USA TODAY. I've never given any of them four stars until today: to A Spool of Blue Thread, the masterful 20th novel by Anne Tyler.

What makes it so good? Its subject is her most recognizable and essential one, family, its setting again Baltimore, its story told in her customarily sweet, wistful, comic voice. In other words, A Spool of Blue Thread has all the ingredients that come together to powerful effect in the author's
Larry H
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

I've been a fan of Anne Tyler for many, many years. In my opinion, there are few authors who can consistently weave compelling, moving stories about both the seemingly mundane and the more dramatic moments families experience.

Apparently Tyler has said that A Spool of Blue Thread , her 20th novel, will be her last. I tried not to let that fact influence my expectations or color my perceptions of the book.

Abby Whitshank has known her husband Red for as long as she can re
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Spool of Blue Thread is the slowly unwinding story of several generations of a family living in Baltimore during much of the 20th century. This is my first experience reading Anne Tyler--which somehow seems unbelievable (though I remember enjoying the film of Accidental Tourist)--and I enjoyed it a lot.

Every family is it's own self, has its own identity, and that is certainly true of the Whitshanks. They seem almost a mirror--how do they compare to other families? Are they "every" family, as t
May 29, 2016 rated it liked it
(3.5) Anne Tyler has created an entirely believable portrait of an American family in Baltimore. The Whitshanks are a family full of quirks, secrets, opinions and history. We follow their story from one generation to the next – though anachronistically, which is interestingly done – and we follow their ups and downs and how they deal with a death in the family.

The novel is enormously well-written. The characterizations are excellent; anyone wishing to build a story with believable, tangible cha
Was that... it? Honestly was that... all? Because if so, I can cease to regret as of this moment not reading any of Anne Tyler's books before. This was possibly among the most mundane books I've ever read- in the most insulting fashion I can possibly mean mundane. If I were a person who called things pedestrian, I would turn up my nose and sniff it about now. It's about the most mundane of middle class families, trudging through the practicalities and problems of that life in the most matter-of- ...more
Connie G
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler writes about families and marriage so well that I always close her books thinking how "real" her characters are. "A Spool of Blue Thread" is a multi-generational story about a Baltimore family whose patriarch had roots in a poor, rural town. He started a construction company in the 1930s, built his dream home with a wide front porch, but never quite fit in with his affluent neighbors who had more privileged backgrounds. The Baltimore home almost becomes another character in the story. ...more
Barry Pierce
I haven't much to say about this. It's typical Tyler. It shows that she is still very much in charge of the "family saga" genre that she pioneered over fifty years ago. The first part is clearly where the life of this novel lays, the second half wobbles slightly. Anne Tyler is the literary equivalent of easy listening music. ...more
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I think Anne Tyler struggled with this book. That's how it felt when I read it, so I am not surprised to hear this is her last.

I adore Anne Tyler. When she is on she is so-oo on! But she is hit and miss and this book was just weak. In many ways it was typical Anne Tyler, (she herself has said she's written the same book over and over) but it just fell flat.

I know other people say exactly the same thing about the books I love, so there you have it.

I'm perfectly willing to admit that it's me and
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler - 3 stars 7 18 Apr 05, 2021 07:42PM  
Can anyone offer insight? 7 267 Oct 06, 2020 06:46PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The King Who Disappeared
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton
  • A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel by Anne Tyler | Summary & Analysis
  • Feeling Lucky
  • Hamnet
  • The Arbitrator
  • Crossover (Cross your Heart and Die, #1)
  • Olive, Again (Olive Kitteridge, #2)
  • The Dutch House
  • Commonwealth
  • The Burgess Boys
  • The Four Winds
  • Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)
  • Anything Is Possible
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • Shuggie Bain
  • Anxious People
  • Small Pleasures
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a mem ...more

Articles featuring this book

One of the many things we love about authors is that they tend to have some of the best reading recommendations. So, as we head into our...
164 likes · 102 comments
“Houses need humans,” Red said. “You all should know that. Oh, sure, humans cause wear and tear—scuffed floors and stopped-up toilets and such—but that’s nothing compared to what happens when a house is left on its own. It’s like the heart goes out of it. It sags, it slumps, it starts to lean toward the ground.” 29 likes
“The trouble with dying,” she’d told Jeannie once, “is that you don’t get to see how everything turns out. You won’t know the ending.” 29 likes
More quotes…