A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

FROM THE GLOBALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING

Book blurb

Violet is 38.

The First World War took everything from her. Her brother, her fiancé – and her future. She is now considered a ‘surplus woman’.

But Violet is also fiercely independent and determined. Escaping her suffocating mother, she moves to Winchester to start a new life –a change that will require courage, resilience and acts of quiet rebellion. And when whispers of another world war surface, she must live with a secret that could change everything…

My thoughts

After her father dies Violet is determined to move away from home as she feels her life will eventually become that of carer to her mother. The book is set between the two world wars so an unmarried daughter would be more likely to have this expectation. Her brother is married and has a family. He and Violet get on, he understands why Violet wants to make the move and encourages her. Their older brother and Violets fiancé were killed during the Great War.

So she makes the move to Winchester. It’s not too far away from home and she can visit her mother on weekends. Violet takes a room in a lodging house and finds life is financially rather difficult but she loves the independence she has found.

Violet finds herself in the Cathedral one day when a service for the embroiderers begins. She arranges to join them. This group of women who embroider the Cathedrals footstools etc., become a lifeline to Violet and she makes friends.

We read of her life at work, with the embroidery group and at home. She meets new people. One of whom introduces her to bell ringing and gives her a tour of the bell tower.

As the daughter whose mother was a tailoress and whose partner is a cross stitcher perhaps it wasn’t surprising how enjoyable I found that element of the book but I also found the bell ringing element quite fascinating and I found myself completely hooked!

Still, it was Violets story, her family and those friends she made and people with whom she came into contact with that kept me engrossed in this book. Within all of this the author brings up issues that would have been seen as improper to talk about at the time but these subjects – lesbianism, single parenthood, mental health and attitudes that push against the times are glimpses of what is to come. Whilst WWI saw the beginning of change in class attitudes it would be well after WWII that many of these subjects would begin to become more openly spoken of and acceptable parts of life. Today they remain sources of potential dissension, disagreement and conflict.

Violet at 38 and unmarried finds the courage to strike out on her own and make her own way. She deftly handles issues at work and in her private life. She encounters a very unsettling situation which is still all too familiar today. Still, with the help of friends, Violet comes up with some great and unique solutions. I particularly liked how the care of her mother was resolved.

Well written, captivating, enjoyable and simply just a wonderful story A Single Thread was one of my favourite reads in 2021.

Book: NetGalley and Purchased

Thanks

My thanks to the publishers for an eCopy of A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier via NetGalley. I did indeed buy my own copy too as it was such a good book.

I earmarked this book from my NetGalley outstanding books list back in November 2021. In my post I said that I would like to read two of the six books that for one reason or another had not yet been read. Well I managed one and A Single Thread was it. Not a resounding success for the NetGalley November challenge but still a reduction to the list by 1/6th or over 16% which makes it sound quite good!

As an update I’ve read Jack by Marilynne Robinson which will leave four outstanding books which I hope to complete before the year (2022) is out.

NetGalley November was supported by Emandherbooks and @tot_and_tales

Information

Published: The Borough Press (5 Sept. 2019) The Borough Press website

Buy: AmazonSmileUK | Your local bookshop | Bookshop.org (affiliate link) | Hive | Waterstones

Items of interest: Bodleian Library | Winchester Cathedral

Author: Tracy Chevalier is an Anglo-American writer of historical fiction, best known for her 1999 novel The Girl with a Pearl Earring. Born in Washington D.C. but a resident of the United Kingdom for the past 35 years, Chevalier worked as a reference book editor for a number of years before composing her debut novel, The Virgin Blue, in 1997. Two years later she achieved her breakthrough success with Girl with a Pearl Earring, a fictionalised account of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Vermeer and the model who posed for his eponymous portrait. Girl with a Pearl Earringswiftly became a bestseller and was adapted for the big screen in 2003 in a version starring Scarlett Johansson. Chevalier has written nine further novels, set in various periods from late medieval Paris to 1970s Washington. Her latest book, A Single Thread, is published in September 2019.

TChevalier website | @tracy_chevalier

Books

For information on all of Tracy Chevalier’s books check out TChevalier-‘My Novels’

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