TITLE: A Single Thread
AUTHOR: Tracy Chevalier
LENGTH: 318 pages
PUBLISHED IN: 2019
GENRE: fiction/historical fiction (1930s, England, embroidery, single women)
REASON FOR READING: I’ve read a handful of books by Tracy Chevalier and enjoyed them
SUMMARY (book jacket):
1932. After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé, Violet Speedwell has become a “surplus woman,” one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men. Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring for her grieving, embittered mother. After countless meals of boiled eggs and dry toast, she saves enough to move out of her mother’s place and into the town of Winchester, home to one of England’s grandest cathedrals. There, Violet is drawn into a society of broderers–women who embroider kneelers for the Cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers.
Violet finds support and community in the group, fulfillment in the work they create, and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda. But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon, Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren’t expected to grow. Told in Chevalier’s glorious prose, A Single Thread is a timeless story of friendship, love, and a woman crafting her own life.
My Thoughts: I feel fairly indifferent towards this book. Firstly, it took a good 50-60 pages to grab my attention. The story was slow and winding; not exactly boring, not exactly enticing. Violet did indeed grow more confident throughout the story, especially at the end when she became that female lead we always hope will do what we want her to do, regardless of the time and place of her story. What drove my interest was the building tension between her and another character–I was interested in what would happen, if anything. However, if I hadn’t had the free time to spend reading, I’m fairly certain this book might’ve ended up sitting by my bed for days, unopened, because it wasn’t enticing enough to pick up too often.
I should like this book more than I did. A female lead with pretty feminist sentiments back in the 1930s–that should be something I’m very interested in. Maybe embroidery and ringing church bells, fairly boring activities in my mind, overtook any excitable feelings I had about the characters and their lives (outside those activities). Bored by context, excited by the storyline? Averaged out to indifference in the end, I suppose.
I imagine, years from now, I won’t remember anything about this book other than the two big things, if even those. It was fine to pass the time, but was unremarkable.