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A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PEOPLE AND USA TODAY | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • Chicago Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Telegraph • BookPage

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“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . . . ” This is how Abby Whitshank always describes the day she fell in love with Red in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate an indefinable kind of specialness, but like all families, their stories 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 parents, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to the grandchildren carrying the Whitshank legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn house that has always been their anchor.

Praise for A Spool of Blue Thread

“An act of literary enchantment . . . [Anne] Tyler remains among the best chroniclers of family life this country has ever produced.”The Washington Post

“Quintessential Anne Tyler, as well as quintessential American comedy . . . [She] has a knack for turning sitcom situations into something far deeper and more moving.”The New York Times Book Review

“By my count I’ve now reviewed around fifty books for USA Today. I’ve never given any of them four stars until today: to A Spool of Blue Thread, the masterful twentieth novel by Anne Tyler.”USA Today

“By the end of this deeply beguiling novel, we come to know a reality entirely different from the one at the start.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Well-crafted, utterly absorbing and compelling . . . probably the best novel you will read all year.”Chicago Tribune

“A miracle of sorts . . . tender, touching and funny . . . [an] understated masterpiece.”—Associated Press

“Exploring [the] dichotomy—the imperfections that reside within a polished exterior—is Tyler’s specialty, and her latest generation-spanning work accomplishes just that, masterfully and monumentally.”Elle

“The story of any family is told through the prism of time. And no storyteller compares to Tyler when it comes to unspooling those tales.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Vintage Anne Tyler . . . [The Whitshanks are] rendered with such immediacy and texture that they might be our next-door neighbors.”Los Angeles Times

“The magic of Tyler’s novels [is that] you imagine these characters carrying on, muddling through, enduring the necessary sorrows and quiet joys of their lives somewhere beyond the page.”—The Seattle Times

“The sort of novel that’s hard to disentangle yourself from. Warm, charming and emotionally radiant, it surely must be counted as among Tyler’s best.”The Miami Herald

“Prose so polished it practically glows on the page.”—Houston Chronicle

An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015: It’s pretty clear that Anne Tyler is comfortable with the art of storytelling. From the first lines of A Spool of Blue Thread, there’s an urge to sit back and settle into the cadence of her words. Or, rather, Abby Whitshank’s words as she recounts the story of how she fell in love with Red Whitshank in 1959. But don’t get too comfortable. Anne Tyler understands that, despite their best intentions, family members don’t often let each other settle back for very long—and the Whitshanks, a Baltimore clan whose history is told through several generations in this sensitive and empathetic novel, is no different than most. As Abby and Red age, their children are drawn back to their sprawling house. When the second part of the novel moves back in time, the shift is jarring at first; but after a fifty year writing career (this is her 20th novel), Tyler has the end in sight. This is a book about the stories we tell each other and the little moments that make up our lives. – Chris Schluep

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