Thursday 15 August 2019

A Single Thread

Finished August 11
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

This historical novel is set between the wars, in the early 1930s. Violet Speedwell is in her late thirties, working as a typist for an insurance company. She's recently moved out of her mother's house in Southampton to Winchester, where she rents a room in a boarding-house. After her father's death, she found it increasingly difficult to deal with her mother. Violet's older brother George was killed in the Great War, soon followed by her fiance Laurence. Her younger brother Tom did his stint in the war, but came back changed and is now married with a couple of children. Violet has been feeling more and more like her life has no meaning.
She relishes her independence, but finds it hard to live on her meagre salary. She shares the office with two younger women who chat and giggle about the young men they are seeing, and treat her with a pitying respect. Violet is drawn to the cathedral, which is much more magnificent inside than it is out, and tries to stop in regularly.
As the book begins, she's stepped out of work on an errand and finds a service about to begin. She forces her way into the seated group of women, and finds that they are embroiderers who have created the first of many planned batches of kneelers for the cathedral and the service is to accept this offering of work. Violet doesn't have fond memories of her own failed tries at embroidery under her mother's tutelage, but one of the women reaches out to her in a friendly way, and soon Violet finds herself a part of the group, learning how to do the expected stitching and finding a community for herself. This is a story of a woman who, after a period of suspension of her life, finds a new way forward, confident in what she has to offer and brave enough to take what she wants when the opportunity arises.
I liked Violet and her courage to find a new life for herself, and I loved the embroidery theme of the novel, based on real people and a real embroidery project. The characters were interesting and I liked the way the story unfolded.


  1. This sounds interesting. I have read many books by Tracy Chevalier but not this one. Yet. Thanks for the review.

    Happy Reading!

    1. It's new! Coming out in September. I got an advance copy.

    2. Thanks. It's definitely on my wish list.