A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier


There are some authors whose work I will grab/buy and run with/download so fast. I have even been known to sit down in the book store with my already-purchased book, and start imbibing while the rest of my family are still deciding.

Why not?

Why not indeed? I am the child who was given a whole packet of (as yet unpurchased) Marie biscuits to eat through a Pick n Pay shopping experience, so that I didn’t worry my busy mother. I make no excuses. It’s learnt behaviour and I can blame my dear Mom.

Tracy Chevalier (Girl with the Pearl Earring, At the Edge of the Orchard, and New Boy) is one of those authors, and A Single Thread one of those books.

It is 1932 and Violet Speedwell is not living her best life. The Great War has stolen her fiancé and a brother, leaving her to tea and toast with her bitter mother. Violet soldiers on, gathering her pennies so she can escape to Winchester, where there is a cathedral, and more importantly, a group of ‘broderers’ – the women who embroider the prayer cushions, and other paraphernalia that cathedrals require. She discovers her tribe there – including austere Dorothy, lovely Louisa and the ever glorious Gilda. In her happy place, she rediscovers herself and what she wants from her life.

This is a wonderful glimpse into a bygone era with new lenses. It’s a celebration of womanhood, community, presence and purpose. The characters are diverse and real, intense and stoic. The setting is austere and dramatic, the perfect backdrop for their passions.

I loved every minute. Every stitch was a memory, a nostalgic moment, a wiped tear. Just my kind of book. Thank you Ms. Chevalier for writing such masterpieces, not rushing the process and giving your readers (especially me) such joyous experiences.

ISBN: 9780008153823

5 stars

You may also enjoy Love is Blind by William Boyd or The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, or even Transcription by Kate Atkinson.

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