I have been a big fan of Tracy Chevalier since I read Girl with a Pearl Earring (see my blogs on Singapore and Malaysia Holiday Reading and The Last Runaway), so I was looking forward to reading her latest novel A Single Thread and downloaded it before even looking at where and when it was set. It was a pleasant surprise to discover, therefore, that it was set in Winchester, where I grew up and lived until I was 18.
The protagonist is Violet Speedwell, who is trying to forge a single life for herself in 1930s Winchester, after getting fed up with life at home in Southampton with her cantankerous mother, and having given up hope of finding love again, after her fiancé is killed in the First World War. She exchanges her mother for an irksome landlady and encounters prejudice and a life living on cress sandwiches, which is all that her typists’ salary will stretch to. But life is good, as she joins the group of cathedral broderers, who are busy stitching kneelers for the cathedral. Although life gets more complicated when she meets an older bell ringer, and begins to be pursued by a dangerous man.
Tracy Chevalier never fails to deliver a great historical novel and this was a deeply enjoyable read, in moments between sightseeing and wine tasting in Knysna and Franschhoek in South Africa.