Anne Tyler assures us that there’s nothing special about the family around whom she has built her latest novel. “There was nothing remarkable about the Whitshanks,” she writes. “None of them was famous. None of them could claim exceptional intelligence. And in looks, they were no more than average. Their leanness was the rawboned kind, not the lithe, athletic slenderness of people in magazine ads, and something a little too sharp in their faces suggested that while they themselves were eating just fine, perhaps their forefathers had not.”
And yet this ordinary Baltimore family makes A Spool of Blue Thread 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. Maybe that’s because the Whitshanks — Abby and Red and their four adult children, t...
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