A Single Thread, by Tracey Chevalier


Tracey Chevalier’s A Single Thread is the focus of this Shelf Indulgence review. This novel perfectly illustrates that the notion of the dutiful daughter was still very much alive between the wars, and while true universal suffrage was adopted in the UK in 1928, women remained subject to male edict. Set fourteen years after WWI took her brother and her fiancé, Violet’s hopes of independence from her bitter and suffocating mother are fading. At thirty-eight, she is a ‘surplus woman’, doomed to spinsterhood. But turning her back on a life of domestic servitude, she takes a bold and perilous step, starting over in Winchester. There, she is drawn into a society of volunteer ‘broderers’ – women who embroider kneelers for the cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition. As her skills grow, she gains confidence, but the world is not kind to women who try to assert themselves, and Violet, like her new-found friends, has to learn to fight for her freedom.

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