A Single Thread

Viking. Sept. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780525558248. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525558255. F
Violet Speedwell is a 38-year-old surplus woman, a term used to describe women who had lost their husbands or fiancés as a result of the Great War. Having tended to her elderly and unpleasant mother, who never recovered from her own losses, Violet leaves her dull life in Southampton, England, and starts anew in the nearby town of Winchester, where she takes a low-paying job as a typist at an insurance company. In Winchester, Violet stumbles upon a group of women, the broderers, who embroider kneeling pads for parishioners at Winchester Cathedral. Their devout artistry helps shape our heroine’s future in more ways than expected. Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) excels when describing the events and organizations of the time as well as the nuanced craftsmanship of needlepoint. Readers may find themselves more interested in Violet’s craft than the story of how her life unfolds.
VERDICT For fans of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, or readers looking to immerse themselves in the past and enjoy a tale rich in details about an overlooked art. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/19.]

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month