Thursday, 3 December 2015

A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler

I’d never heard of Anne Tyler before, which surprised me, as she’s a prolific and well regarded author, and a Pulitzer prize winner. This novel tells the story of a long marriage, centred around a house that was built by the husband’s father.
I typically struggle with these very domestic stories, but this is as good an example as any, with believable characters and well observed moments. Here we are when they are young, with the husband-to-be watching his sister in irritation: “ (She) would be eagerly nodding her head in her demure new pillbox hat, giving a liquid laugh that any brother would know to be false”
And here’s a description of his family; “Their leanness was the rawboned kind, not the lithe elastic 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.”
For me in the end while I enjoyed the novel I cannot say it moved me. After watching the couple’s whole lives unfold I was left a little – blah. And yet still I can only admire Ms Tyler’s artistry. Here we are, at the end, with the husband in a car. The wife is dead, so the husband is moving into a care home, and his grandchildren have just had their last Haloween at the house. The decorations are not yet down: “Look past him out the rain-spattered window. Focus purely on the scenery, which had changed to open countryside now, leaving behind the blighted row houses, leaving behind the station under its weight of roiling dark clouds, and the empty city streets farther north with the trees turing inside out in the wind, and the house on Bouton Road where the filmy-skirted ghosts frolicked and danced on the porch with nobody left to watch”
See what she did there? It’s a bit barf inducing but I admire it.

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