Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mini-Reviews: Troubled Families

Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread was my book club's May pick. I had two friends, and a spouse, who didn't finish the book because it lacked a compulsive narrative.

I found that around page 140 things got very interesting, and in the last sections, devastating. What seems to be a boring family is revealed to be a sad failure spanning generations.

There are remarkably funny scenes. I laughed at loud at the complaint asking why people only bring casseroles to the grieving; why not wine?

And in the end, there is hope that, regardless of how messed up our family is, we will survive and perhaps learn to do better ourselves.

Several of my book club members enjoyed the book, but others who read Tyler's other books were disappointed. In the end, I was glad to have read the book.


The Bronte family had more than its share of troubles, and Charlotte was not spared.

Brian Wilk's Charlotte in Love: The Courtship and Marriage of Charlotte Bronte considers the famous writer's relationships with the important men in her life: her father, The Reverend Patrick; her brilliant but doomed brother Branson; her teacher Professor Heger, who Charlotte fell for; her young publisher George Smith who introduced her to the literary world; and Arthur Nicholas Bell, her father's lowly curate who fell madly in love with his boss's plain and dutiful daughter, even if she was a brilliant novelist.

The story of Bell's patient courtship and how Charlotte turned from ridiculing the curate to pity to accepting him as the love of her life is also the story of a strong and controlling father protecting against the loss of his only surviving child.

Although the writing is a bit stodgy, the information is fascinating. Make no mistake about it: Charlotte was a woman of independent spirit and high passion and desperate to connect emotionally and physically.