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Review June 2020

 A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier.

First Published: 2019

Internet entries:

A Single Thread

by Tracy Chevalier

The book was chosen by Kath on a recommendation from a friend.

The story is set in UK between the two world wars and depicts one woman’s struggle to gain independence and fulfilment in the face the loss of her fiancé, of the imbalance in the numbers of men and women. The storyline enabled the author to include sub themes of Cathedral life illustrated by the embroidering of kneelers, and the ringing of the bells, and ends with the main character having given birth to a child being faced with raising that child as a single parent.

The expectations that society placed against single women, in that era, are well developed in the book.

The writing was generally well received, the characters being well portrayed. The minor fiefdoms of embroidery and bellringing in the cathedral environment were well researched and used to good effect to illustrate the variety of characters.

The story line had a mixed reaction from the club members. Some felt it too predictable, and that there were too many co-incidences. The creepy “baddie” equally elicited mixed reactions and at least one club member questioned the author’s need for his inclusion. Overall this was not judged as a “page turner”, just a good gentle bedtime read.

We had a good discussion over the vulnerability of solo women in the countryside (well pointed up by the baddie). One club member felt that the story needed a good murder.

The societal expectations of the period and the behaviours of the characters are inevitably judged through our (affluent) society and through the prism of our own personal values. Is it selfish to work (or even fight) for one’s right to be independent even if that means another person is disadvantaged? What constitutes fulfilment for a person’s life? How should we evaluate relationships and liaisons?

The story left no loose threads (enjoyed by some members, disliked by others), and had a relatively happy ending. Whilst not the strongest book we have read, it gave rise to a good discussion.

PC, 14th June 2020. AABC rating: 3.63.