Book Review: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

There’s a reason I always wander back to the same section of the library when I don’t know exactly what kind of book I’m looking for. I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but at least a few times a year I happen to check whether there’s anything in by Tracy Chevalier that I haven’t read yet.

She’s just amazing, and A Single Thread was no different. I hardly even needed to read the inside of the book jacket. I saw that it was about embroidery, and it came home with me. It tells the tale of Violet Speedwell, a woman who lost so much in World War I and is still trying to find her place in the world. She joins a group of embroiderers at Winchester Cathedral, who are on a mission to make kneelers and cushions to fill the church. There are battles between the past and the future, her family and her work, and the ongoing battle of how to be a single woman and still be accepted in society.

Chevalier is always excellent at transporting the reader to the time and place in which the story happens, and this is no different. Even when there are times when it seems there isn’t all that much happening, there’s so much detail to be found in each scene that A Single Thread is impossible to put down.

I love to cross stitch, which was why I didn’t have to think about picking up this book. I wasn’t disappointed, and I highly recommend it even if you don’t stitch. What makes good historical fiction even better? Looking up Winchester Cathedral and finding out that not only were some of the characters based on real people, and not only did those cushions actually get made, but they’re still there and in use! I almost cried with joy, and then I told my husband we’ll have to take a trip to England sometime just so I can visit these beautiful pieces of embroidery!

What have you been reading lately?

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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