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Extended Audio Sample A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel, by Anne Tyler Click for printable size audiobook cover
5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anne Tyler Narrator: Kimberly Farr Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“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 special. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby, 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, new arrivals 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, humor, and generosity of spirit—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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Exploring this 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…Indelible.”


  • “Tyler tenderly unwinds the tangled skeins of three generations, then knits them together…in precise often hilarious detail…By the end of this deeply beguiling novel, we come to know a reality entirely different form the one at the start. Not that anyone’s lying, only that everything—the way we see the world and the way we understand it to work—is changed by the intimate, incremental shifts of daily life.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “[Tyler’s] extraordinary gift for producing what seems less like fiction than actuality works wonders again. Characters all but elbow their way off the page with lifelikeness… Masterly…A gleamingly accomplished book.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Give or take a few details, this extended/blended/fouled-up family could be any of ours. That makes it cliché territory, risky for an ambitious novelist. It’s also quintessential Anne Tyler, as well as quintessential American comedy. Tyler has a knack for turning sitcom situations into something far deeper and more moving. Her great gift is playing against the American dream, the dark side of which is the falsehood at its heart: that given hard work and good intentions, any family can attain the Norman Rockwell ideal of happiness—ordinary, homegrown happiness…The calamities she depicts are minor, after all, and her characters aren’t the twisted, fearsome ones of much American fiction.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A Spool of Blue Thread possesses all the qualities that make Tyler one of the most beloved and respected authors of our time. Like its predecessors, the story of four generations of the Whitshanks delicately follows the thread of aspirations, misunderstandings, reunions, and secrets. A major work by a beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “It’s been half a century since Tyler debuted with If Morning Ever Comes, and her writing has lost none of the freshness and timelessness that has earned her countless awards and accolades. Now 73, she continues to dazzle with this multigenerational saga, which glides back and forth in time with humor and heart and a pragmatic wisdom that comforts and instructs.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Tyler gives us lovely insights into an ordinary family who, ‘like most families…imagined they were special.’ They will be special to readers, thanks to the extraordinary richness and delicacy with which Tyler limns complex interactions and mixed feelings familiar to us all and yet marvelously particular to the empathetically rendered members of the Whitshank clan. The texture of everyday experience transmuted into art…Family life in Baltimore [is] still a fresh and compelling subject in the hands of this gifted veteran.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Tyler show[s] once again that she’s a gifted and engrossing storyteller.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Luminous…The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tyler marks the fiftieth year of her writing career with another remarkably convincing look at the push and pull of family life.”


  • “Narrator Kimberly Farr’s experience with character-driven novels is evident from her nuanced performance of this compelling story…One key to Farr’s success with this audiobook is the wide range of emotions she employs to capture the characters’ individual temperaments as they cope with marriage, parenthood, aging, and adult sibling rivalry. Although reading male dialogue is not Farr’s strong point, her consistent voices and excellent sense of pacing connect the listener with the family members and the rhythms of their everyday dramas.”


  • A BookPage Top Pick for February 2015
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A February 2015 LibraryReads Pick
  • A Carnegie Medal for Literature Longlist Selection
  • A 2015 Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist Selection
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for Literature & Fiction
  • A People Magazine Best Book of 2015

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Melissa | 4/19/2016

    " This is a great story of a simple family and all of its intricate relationships. "

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