Title: A Single Thread
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Borough Press
I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for ‘A Single Thread’ from the writer who brought you the international bestseller ‘Girl With the Pearl Earring’.
It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt. Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and brother and regarded by society as a ‘surplus woman’ unlikely to marry, resolves to escape her suffocating mother and strike out alone. A new life awaits her In Winchester. Yes, it is one of the draughty boarding houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it’s also a life gleaming with Independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the borderers, a disparate group of women charged with embroidering kneelers for the Cathedral, and is soon entwined in their lives and their secrets. As the almost unthinkable threat of a second Great War appears on the horizon Violet collects a few secrets of her own that could just change everything…
I throughly enjoyed this book. It’s the first book by Tracy Chevalier that I’ve read and I think I chose a good one to start with.
What really shone throughout this book was it’s characters. They were fantastic. Violet was such a wonderful character to follow through on her journey. Then there was Gilda and subsequently Dorothy who added some heart to the book. All these characters were flawed and messy. They were women ahead of their time. It was fascinating to read.
The overriding sense I got from this book was women’s history and they struggles they faced. Like I said, they were women ahead of their time. They had very modern attitudes, modern views on life but live in an old fashioned time. I loved reading about Violet trying to live her life as an independent women, something that wasn’t very common in those times. Facing scrutiny from those around and overcoming it. I also loved Gilda and Dorothy fighting for their relationship. Again, something that wasn’t often talked about in these times. So for me, that was the message of this book, a reminder of the inequalities women faced in those times.
There were some really interesting, unusual aspects to this book. For example the Bell Ringing, it goes into extreme detail. I never thought I’d know that much about bell ringing. Also, the embroidery is fascinating. I didn’t know that kind of thing happened, I love a book that teaches me something.
For me, this book did take a little while to get going, with the characters really carrying it during these moments. It really got going for me when Violet went on her walking holiday. But towards the end, the plot was really picked up. It was a real page turner. I just loved how Violet handled everything. I loved how the end of Violet’s story summed up how modern perspective, whilst be so heartwarming and touching.
The romance between Gilda and Dorothy, I absolutely loved it. It was incredibly sweet and heartfelt. I loved Violets reaction to the romance, once again showcasing her modern attitude. Although the romance between Arthur and Violet felt a little rushed to begin with. It turned to be a lovely romance. I liked how it ended, and how it once again showed the modern side to Violet’s personality.
With ‘A Single Thread’ being set between WWI and WWII, you could feel Violet struggling to over come the grief she was still facing from WWI, whilst the threat of WWII loomed ahead. Whilst I have to admit I would have liked this mentioned a bit more to really set this novel in its time, I liked it when it was mentioned. I enjoyed the mention of the Fylfot and how it’s been used long before the Nazis made it their symbol. I loved how the characters used them in this book, it was a fantastic act of rebellion. I had no idea and it’s something I’ll never forget.
Overall, this is a great novel with some fantastic characters. The juxtaposition between characters views and the time they live in was fascinating. It was a quick read, at times I struggled to put it down. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you to HarperCollins for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for a honest, unbiased review. Out September 5th.
Until the next review