Book review: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

Having been alerted by a friend to a book by Tracy Chevalier that I hadn’t read, I had a look in the library and borrowed A Single Thread. Unusually I didn’t begin reading it for a few weeks. Once I did I finished it in three days.

A Single Thread is a historical novel set in the period between WWI and WWII. Due to the number of young men killed in WWI there were far more young women than men. As a result there were many single women. Their plight is the background to this interesting, sensitive story. It is set in the south of England, Southampton and Winchester being two of the locations. Aspects of life in the family, the workplace and in voluntary roles at Winchester Cathedral are portrayed realistically. There are a good number of characters, all with their individuality.

The title is clever as embroidery as well as spinsterhood features in this novel.

I was glad that something, which had puzzled me, became clear in the final paragraph of acknowledgements. However, I was surprised by the scoring in the game of cribbage, which differed from what I was taught by my grandfather, who served in WWI.

A Single Thread is book I recommend highly. It is available in hardback (like the copy I read), paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Book review: The Other Daughter by Caroline Bishop

Photo of the book The Other Daughter with cropped picture of a young woman holding a book. her head and shoulders and feet are outside the picture. A cityscape is behind her at the bottom. Text includes an endorsement from Rachel Hore - A fresh, original, passionate and page-turning story.

The Other Daughter is Caroline Bishop’s debut novel published earlier this year. I chanced upon it in the new books section of the local library. The strapline is You only get one life – but what if it isn’t the one you were meant to have?

The chapters alternate between 1976 and 2016 with two female main characters’ stories intertwining. It is set in the London and Switzerland. I was particularly interested as I have visited some of the places in Switzerland including Chateau de Chillon on the shore of Lake Geneva. It was easy to visualise the characters in these places.

The story highlights the late stage at which moves towards equality for women reached Switzerland. There are other disturbing social problems in the background. I enjoyed this book. The mystery is unravelled slowly in a way I found very satisfactory.

The endorsement from Rachel Hore – ‘A fresh, original, passionate and page-turning story’ is accurate.

Switzerland is a very beautiful country, which makes it more poignant to learn that it is not without its problems.

Another novel set in Switzerland with some disturbing content is Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. I read that before I began reviewing most of the books I read and enjoyed it less than her other books.

The summer of 1976 was the very hot one, which is the setting for another book with some dark content: On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fizpatrick, which I reviewed here.

What I read in December 2019 (Part 1)

This post includes just one book review. December is always a busy month.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

I have read and enjoyed a number of Tracy Chevalier’s books. They are all very well-written. One I wished I hadn’t read was Virgin Blue, because of the unpleasant subject matter. Had I turned to the back cover of New Boy before I began reading this library book I might have been put off. However I noticed after I had begun it that it said on the back that it was a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. If you like a happy ending…

…I was reminded of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which (unfortunately) I had to study for a school exam and When he fell by Kate Hewitt, which has a similar setting and some other similarities.

The story is very well told with clues to the characters in Othello in the choice of names. It is a fascinating book. There are resources for book clubs on Tracy Chevalier’s website.