Book Review: A Spool of Blue Thread

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Title: A Spool of Blue Thread

Author: Anne Tyler

Page: 358 pages

Plot: “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 also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves 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 father and mother, newly-arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humour, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.

Favorite Quote: “But it has occurred to me, on occasion, that our memories of our loved ones might not be the point. Maybe the point is their memories—all that they take away with them”

Thoughts:  I picked this book up last month since I was in a mood to read a well written family drama and this was my choice since Anne Tyle is famous for quirking up family tales. ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ revolves around the Whitshank family. The soul of the narration is the mother, Abby Whitshank.

The book tells us about the three generation of the Whitshank family. There is nothing remarkable about their family but like most of the families, they believe they are special. The story mostly takes us through the lives of the family members, their wills, regrets, dimensions, family dynamics, evolution of their family, etc.

It is a slow paced novel and very realistic in nature. The story progression is very slow which makes the book dull at times. A crisper edit would definitely have attracted more readers.  The story is not striking enough but what makes the book stand out is the character build up and the narration. The characters are very well studied and portrayed interestingly. Empathizing with the characters and their quirks was easy.

This book is for the patient readers who enjoy a well characterized novel and slow and steady unveiling of the story.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: The Nest

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Title: The Nest

Author: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Pages: 368 pages

Plot: A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Thoughts: ‘The Nest’ was a semifinalist for the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards 2016 in the best fiction category. I usually like reading family dramas and I had to read this one.

The book is about the Plumb family and the inheritance left by their father called “The Nest”.  The Plumb family siblings, Leo a successful entrepreneur in an unhappy marriage,  Melody, a mother of twin daughters who has a big home morgatage to pay off, Bea who is a short story writer stuck with her long due novel and Jack who lives with his husband Walker and has a loan to pay are eagerly waiting  to receive the inheritance. All the siblings are relying on the inheritance to solve their problems and ensure a secure future until Leo messes it up for everyone with drugs, an accident, a Porsche and a girl. Everyone’s morality and family love comes to a test.

While the plot was ordinary and the ending a cliché, the writing stood apart. The book was narrated from various point of views which could have worked for some readers but it didn’t work for me. At times the point of view changed with in the same paragraph itself. It was really brave and adventurous of the author to do this but it didn’t work well all the time.  There were too many opinions at once. I do like complex characters but I really couldn’t connect with any of the characters. They all seemed shallow, self absorbed and selfish. Maybe if the book had fewer characters or limited Point of views, the empathy factor would have increased. I could only finish the book because it was well written. In short, it is a well written book with a mediocre plot.

Ratings: 3/5

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Book Review: Out of the Box Awakening

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Title:  Out of the Box Awakening

Author:  Jennifer Theriot

Pages: 366 pages

Plot: Olivia is a good woman, a good mother, a good wife. She’s got it made. She doesn’t want anything to change.

Of course, it does…
Swept from her perfect paper-doll life in Houston, Olivia finds herself in Chicago, alone, betrayed, and far from home. Soon everything she thought she knew about herself and her life will be challenged. She has only courage, love, and her passion for music to carry her through the maelstrom—or draw her further in.

Ash is the man who has everything—everything except healing from the losses of a lifetime. His only peace lies in the sweet flow of music pouring from his guitar
What happens when the married woman and the handsome widower are thrown together by fate?

Out of the Box Awakening is a story of shared passion and shared joy. Jennifer Theriot has written a compelling book about what happens when two people find new life and new love for themselves and for those around them.

Out of the Box Awakening is the first book in this series. The main purpose of these books is to make women realize that in order to find happiness, sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone. Never be afraid to express your feelings and never, for one minute, think that the right man— your knight in shining armor— won’t come along.

Our protagonist Olivia is in her fifties looking at starting a new life with Ash Harper. Both Olivia and Ash have had a bad marriage and finally find each other to be their soul mates. But this is just the beginning. They have issues of the past to deal with.

Unlike most of the romance novels I have read, this one has a matured elderly couple as the lead. For me this book is more of a power packed family drama with lots of ups and downs, highs and lows, laughter and cries. The friendship bit of it is well highlighted with Todd and Olivia. The book emphasizes on the fact that the unresolved issues of the past can cause trouble in your present life. That is exactly what happens to Olivia and Ash. The story is about how they overcome these issues and have the will to keep moving forward.

Spoiler Alert: It would have been more appealing if the thriller segment towards the end would not be a mere dream, or it should have been completely eliminated.

Never the less, the romance was refreshing and the novel was an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

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