I’ve read a few books by Tracy Chevalier so I was excited when I heard she had written another book, titled A Single Thread. The cover featured a needle and thread which immediately made me want to read it. Tracy Chevalier is an American author, who now lives in the UK, who has written 10 novels. She is probably most well-known for writing Girl With A Pearl Earring which was made into a film with Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
If she was to make a mark on the world, she would have to do so in another way…
It is 1932, and the losses of the First World War are still keenly felt.
Violet Speedwell, mourning for both her fiancé and her 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 draughty boarding-houses and sidelong glances at her naked ring finger from younger colleagues; but it is also a life gleaming with independence and opportunity. Violet falls in with the broderers, 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 find this period of history absolutely fascinating and often ignored. I love a historical novel and read this in a few days, I really couldn’t put it down. Violet is independent minded and a great character. She knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to get what she wants, in a 1930’s kind of way. The novel takes place over a few years and you really see her blossoming, taking steps to carve out her own life.
If you’ve ever thought about the women behind all the cushions and kneelers in a church or cathedral, then this forms a lovely backdrop to Violet’s life in Winchester. As Violet learns how to stitch, she also learns more about herself, dealing with love and loss, and a new life in a new city.
I loved that the book included lots of information about canvas stitching and bellringing (something I knew nothing about). Readers may like to know that the book includes a real figure, Louisa Pesel, who really did design the patterns used by Violet and her fellow Broderers. This is a great book, not a romping historical page turner, but a subtle story about an unmarried woman, turning her back on what was expected of her, and the limited choices she was able to make to achieve a life she was happy with.
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier is published in September by HarperCollins, you can purchase it from all good bookshops and Amazon (aff. link). Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me a copy to review.