Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Single Thread, the latest novel from Tracy Chevalier which was published last week. As a fan of historical fiction, I was drawn to this book, which I confess is the first book I have read by Tracy Chevalier, an author whose previous work I have been meaning to read for some time!
In this story, with events taking place in the 1930’s, we meet a woman named Violet Speedwell, who, alongside many others, is still feeling the effects of the First World War, and the losses she has experienced. And it is the loss of her family, and particularly her fiancé, that has left Violet labelled as a ‘surplus woman’ – a woman in her late thirties who is unlikely to marry. Over the course of the novel, Chevalier explores what life was like for Violet and women like her, the way they are viewed within society, with the knowing glances to her naked ring finger, alongside the pressures she faces closer to home, with her own mother making life more difficult. With this in mind, Violet chooses to set out on her own, to escape the suffocating atmosphere of her home, and to forge a new path that is entirely her own.
This path takes her to Winchester, a place which provides her with a new life as she meets new people, and finds new opportunities. It is here that she meets the broderers – a group of women who are responsible for the embroidery of the cushions and kneelers at Winchester Cathedral. As Violet becomes immersed in this new world her life becomes intertwined with those of the women she meets, as more secrets are gathered along the way. I enjoyed the 1930’s setting of this book, and the way in which it depicts a different way of life for these women to whom history has not been kind. In terms of plot development I would say that this book is of a slower pace, with the focus being on the development of these characters. It is a charming and well researched historical novel which explores how these women worked to forge a future for themselves in the face of adversity, and at a complex point in history between the two wars.
I found A Single Thread to be an enjoyable, character driven story in which we follow one woman’s journey to a new life, one which also provides fascinating insight into the workings of the broderer’s in Winchester. It was published on 5th September 2019 by Borough Press, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
This review was written as part of the blog tour for A Single Thread, you can check out the other stops on the tour on the dates and blogs below: