A Single Thread

A Single Thread


Violet is 38.

The First World War took everything from her. Her brother, her fiancé – and her future. She is now considered a ‘surplus woman’.

But Violet is also fiercely independent and determined. Escaping her suffocating mother, she moves to Winchester to start a new life –a change that will require courage, resilience and acts of quiet rebellion. And when whispers of another world war surface, she must live with a secret that could change everything…

Our Review

A Single Thread is a difficult book for me to review. I normally enjoy books by Tracy Chevalier, but I struggled with this one. The writing style was beautiful as usual, but the subject matter failed to entice me, and I disliked the protagonist.

I was sent a copy for review prior to publication but the sheer number of books I received around that time and since have meant that I have struggled to find time to read it. However, I can remember that it was the author rather than the blurb that made me decide to request it.

It is 1932 and Violet Speedwell is still recovering from the loss of both her brother and her fiancé during the war. She has recently moved to Winchester to escape from her overbearing mother and to attempt to gain some independence.

One day Violet enters Winchester cathedral and stumbles upon a presentation for a group of embroiderers tasked with making kneelers for the cathedral. Violet joins the group and begins to make friends with some of its members.

During the friendships she learns some scandalous secrets and has to decide whether to divulge some of her own.

One of the things that initially appealed to me about A Single Thread is that it is set in and around a cathedral and I hadn’t read a book in that setting previously.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about the book was the mention of Lincoln cathedral. Having grown up in Lincoln I always feel an affinity to any book that mentions it.

“On holiday she had admired the handsome square towers of Canterbury Cathedral, and of Lincoln, which dominated the city as a Cathedral should.”

A Single Thread was clearly well-researched, and I enjoyed reading about a ‘surplus’ woman, a term I hadn’t heard before. This was used to describe unmarried women after the first world war, women who were regarded as a threat by those who were already married. The protagonist Violet is considered to be one of these women.

“She hated the judgement that the usher was forming from her not wearing a wedding ring.”

One of the things I disliked intensely was the attitude of the men in Violet’s life towards her. I know that this is a product of the time the book was set but it meant that the central romance in the book was not one I was routing for.

A lot of the social expectations placed upon Violet, and women in general, struck me as outdated and those elements were the areas of the book, I found the most interesting. For example, women not really being seen on their own, pubs being a mainly male domain and attitudes towards same sex relationships.

A Single Thread was readable but I can’t say it will be particularly memorable.


Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 2.8/5

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