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A Single Thread

For her grieving embittered mother After countless meals of boiled egg and dry toast she saves enough to move out of her mother's home and into the town of Winchester home to one of England's grandest cathedrals There Violet is drawn into a society of broderers women who embroider kneelers kneeling cushions for the Cathedral carrying on a centuries long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippersViolet finds s This was my first time reading a novel by Tracy Chevalier and I have a somewhat mixed reaction That s not to say the book is not enjoyable because it really is But something was a little bit missing for me and by about the 23 mark I was really ready for the book to be over A Single Thread follows the character of Violet Speedwell in 1930s England Violet is in her late thirties and is what is known at the time as a surplus woman meaning that she is unmarried and most likely without any prospects of ever getting married Both Violet s brother and fianc were killed in World War I and she is still very much mourning the loss of these important men from her life The story starts with Violet finally asserting her independence and leaving her home to come live and work in Winchester One day she stumbles across a church service where a group of women volunteering as broaderers people who embroider are presenting their work kneelers and cushions at the cathedral And thereafter Violet becomes a broaderer herself and gets involved in the secrets and lives of some of these women She also gets to know some of the bell ringers and is particularly taken by a married man named Arthur One of the things I loved the most about this book is the research and historical accuracy of both embroidery and bell ringing This book is brim full of careful details about canvas embroidery needlepoint and as someone who dabbles in both knitting and sewing I found this fascinating It was so interesting learning about the stitches and patterns used to create kneelers and cushions for Winchester Cathedral in the 1930s And what truly made this book standout was the fact that one of the characters in the book was actually based on a real life person from that era Louisa Pesel I only discovered this fact as I was reading the acknowledgements section at the end of the book and it made perfect sense to me when I read about this woman s embroidery legacy Winchester Cathedral because Lousia was one of the most memorable and authentic feeling characters in the book The book also sheds light on the skill of bell ringing in churches and cathedrals It s truly amazing to read about these men that were so committed to enriching their parish s daily activities Both these topics could so easily have been dull to read about but Chevalier somehow managed to bring them both alive and really helped me to appreciate the skill sets of the characters involved in these activities I also really enjoyed reading about Violet and found her to be a thoroughly engaging main character I liked that she had some spunk in her but also had many doubts It was the juxtaposition of the two that made her feel uite human It was the majority of the supporting characters that I feel let the book down I did really enjoy the LGBT storyline that involved one of Violet s friends but I found the characterisations of her mother and surviving brother to be somewhat lacking They felt rather cliched rather than truly authentic to me And I struggled to ever really feel invested in the subtly written relationship between Violet and Arthur I kept hoping Violet would just kick him to the curb and that storyline would wrap up half way through the book as I truly did not understand her connection to him Sadly this wasn t the case and Arthur hung around annoying me until the very end This book is definitely a book concerned with character than plot and because I felt rather ambivalent about so many of the supporting characters I think that s why I feel somewhat mixed about this book So much of their stories just felt perfunctory in that I felt I was being told things as a reader rather than truly feeling them All in all this was a positive reading experience and I definitely would read something by Chevalier again My rating is 35 stars An e copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher The Borough PressHarper Collins UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review For reviews and book related chat check out my blog

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An immersive moving story of a woman coming into her own at the dawn of the Second World War from internationally bestselling author Tracy Chevalier1932 After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé Violet Speedwell has become a surplus woman one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring In A Single Thread Tracy Chevalier paints a richly detailed picture of history and social change in England in the inter war years set in the beautiful location of Winchester with its magnificent cathedral In a well researched character driven story it is 1932 38 year old Violet Speedwell is deemed to be one of the surplus women a conseuence of the huge numbers of men lost in WW1 women who are both pitied and feared She is still feeling the loss of her fiance and her brother in the war stifled by a difficult and suffocating mother She saves up moving to Winchester living an impoverished existence in a lodging house and working as a typist On a visit to the Cathedral there is a ceremony for the broderers her interest is captured by the embroidered kneelers She joins the group of women that includes the real life Louise PesselAs she immerses her life in embroidery she finds so much than she could ever have expected She discovers an inner fulfillment support friendship and community along with secets whilst feeling drawn to a married bellringer Arthur She becomes aware of who she is and what she is good at Chevalier goes into incredible detail on the craft of embroidery and campanology in a slow moving but involving narrative Violet is a strong determined flawed woman resilient as despite the challenges she and other women face she is intent on shaping her life into what she wants it to be refusing to be defined by others There are all the issues often associated with small communities small minded individuals gossip judgementalism and prejudice Amidst a horizon that hints of another world war we are given a snapshot of this particular historical period people and place with beautiful descriptions of the location The novel touches on issues of the position of women of sexuality of being an unmarried mother of the importance of friendships of identity family of love and art This is not a book for those looking for a fast paced read this is one to savour and engage in the characters and the Winchester Cathedral community in the 1930s This is for those who love character driven historical fiction particularly of this era Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC

Tracy Chevalier ä 7 review

Upport and community in the group fulfillment in the work they create and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren't expected to grow Told in Chevalier's glorious prose A Single Thread is a timeless story of friendship love and a woman crafting her own li A story is like building a chapel A novel is a cathedral Rosario FerreTracy Chevalier centers A Single Thread around the majesty of the Cathedral in Winchester with its mighty presence and its abundant history Winchester Cathedral becomes the focal point of what has occured in the past in its community and what is transpiring in early May of 1932Winchester still bears the scars of World War I in which loss sits heavily at the elbow of family upon family Young men left the township in droves only to return shattered in mind and body or not at all Violet Speedwell feels the hollowness of fatality in the realization that there will never be a future for her brother George or there will never be the promises fulfilled of love from her fiance Laurence At thirty eight Violet has swallowed down the bitterness of living with her stern widowed mother who needles Violet constantly Nothing that Violet does will heal the negativity and resentment that flows constantly within her mother Violet decides to leave Southhampton and make a break for Winchester She secures a job as an insurance typist in a small firm She barely has enough money to rent a small room and certainly not much for extrasBut just as the Cathedral has always been the heartbeat of Winchester it becomes the focus of Violet s new life She inuires about the embroidering being done over the years by a group of women embellishing the kneelers cushions and alms bags with their works of art Louisa Pesel a real life individual takes her under her wing and soon Violet is creating impressive work herselfThe Cathedral becomes Violet s source of refuge as the world takes its place on the precipice of another war The Nazi Party is securing a foothold in Germany with Hitler taking advantage of economic uncertainties and unrest It is here that Violet will meet Arthur Knight a bell ringer within the Cathedral Her entire life will take a drastic turn from here on outTracy Chevalier takes us deeply into the world of broderers who stitched their way into creating small offerings of beauty in a world going so wrong Chevalier also presents the talents and finesse of the bell ringers that brought forth awe within the Cathedral s walls But bear with the indepth descriptions of embroidery and bell ringing She sometimes steps too far into painting mental murals of these two entities that the reader almost wishes to step away from such finite detail Be aware but also be cognizant of the fact that there s so much within these wallsA Single Thread zeroes in on the uickening change within the expectations placed upon women The severe casualties brought upon by the past war and the impending one will come to embolden women who will leave behind their pacificity and take on new and unexpected roles Violet herself will walk a different path in regard to relationships sexuality employment and a new emboldment in a changing world Life certainly begins with A Single ThreadI received a copy of A Single Thread through NetGalley for an honest review My thanks to Random House Books and to the highly talented Tracy Chevalier

  • Hardcover
  • 321
  • A Single Thread
  • Tracy Chevalier
  • English
  • 15 November 2019
  • 9780525558248

About the Author: Tracy Chevalier

Born19 October 1962 in Washington DC Youngest of 3 children Father was a photographer for The Washington PostChildhoodNerdy Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading Favorite authors back then Laura Ingalls Wilder Madeleine L’Engle Zilpha Keatley Snyder Joan Aiken Susan Cooper Lloyd Alexander Book I would have taken to a desert island Anne of Green Gables by LM MontgomeryEduca



10 thoughts on “A Single Thread

  1. says:

    In A Single Thread Tracy Chevalier paints a richly detailed picture of history and social change in England in the inter war years se

  2. says:

    Violet inadvertently walks into the Winchester Cathedral during a ceremony for the “broderers” and is taken with the embroidered kneelers I

  3. says:

    Despite having neither the temperament nor the talent to actively engage in the fiber arts I have always had an interest in them My forays into the world of knitting and needlepoint have resulted in frustration and I sheepishly admit swearing like a sailor We have a world renowned art museum here which has many fine examples on display so I content myself with viewing textiles tapestries and so on rather than actively taking part In this no

  4. says:

    In a world that increasingly appears to have gone mad this book is a soothing calming balm This story is unders

  5. says:

    This was my first time reading a novel by Tracy Chevalier and I have a somewhat mixed reaction That's not to sa

  6. says:

    DNF at 50% Feel awful because this is my monthly read with Esil and Angela This for me is one of those books that one neither hates no

  7. says:

    A story is like building a chapel; A novel is a cathedral Rosario FerreTracy Chevalier centers A Single Thread around the majesty of the Cathedral in Winchester with its mighty presence and its abundant history Winchester Cathedral becomes the focal point of what has occured in the past in its community and what is transpiring in early May of 1932Winchester still bears the scars of World War I in which loss sits heavily at the elbow of f

  8. says:

    325 starsA Single Thread had the ingredients for the kind of novel I usually love but unfortunately I found it uite flat in the deliv

  9. says:

    It's 1932 and because so many young men have lost their lives in the Great War there is a whole generation of unmarried females unfortunately referred to as surplus women; Violet at age 38 is one of them She has l

  10. says:

    The fabric of Violet Speedwell’s life begins to feel worn It is 1932 and as a 38 year old woman under the controlling nee

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