Skip to main content

Book Review: A Thread So Fine by Susan Welch

A Thread So Fine is an apt title and an evocative story of two almost inseparable sisters: Shannon and Eliza. When the story kicks off, they are chirpy teenagers, all excited for college and romance. However, fate has something different in store for them.


The sisters with their family lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Shannon is around eleven months elder to Eliza. However, it is Eliza who is keen to achieve higher sense of achievements in life i.e. education and career. Simply, she is too ambitious for a traditional society like St. Paul. On the other hand, Shannon would love to emulate her sister, but Eliza overwhelmingly cares for her.

As the story chugs ahead, Shannon suffers from severe tuberculosis, subsequently she is hospitalized for ten months in isolation and undergoes many surgeries. Finally, she is saved from the deathbed. On the other side of the story, Eliza begins dating David. But well before their story could reach a point of culmination, she is being assaulted and raped by Patrick, a war hero, and David’s cousin. Things get worse from here onwards. Eliza is deeply perturbed and becomes pregnant. Since the story is set in the realms of Catholicism, Eliza prefers not to divulge the inside story, but she is sent to Catholic Home for Unwed Mothers. There she gives birth to a baby.   

Now onwards the saga of family secrets and two sisters’ separation begins. With some help from Mrs. Perkins (an eminent personality), Eliza moves to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. This move cuts all the ties from her family. While Shannon upon recovery, gets into nursing career, for the sake of Eliza’s child.

The novel is poignant in exploring the grim and harsh societal realities post the World War II in a modern country like the USA. Both sisters suffer unspeakable privation thrown at them by the forefront face of the society. It’s relieving to see that Ithaca is a progressive society which paves way for Eliza’s glorious life, unlike St. Paul, in Minnesota.

As a reader you will feel a sense of sympathy and guilt for the circumstances of Shannon, who always finds herself at the end of sacrifice. Sometimes for Miriam, the Ross Family, or her deteriorating health, or for mother Nell whose secrets surface from time to time, in snatches.

The novel has part history, part changing political landscape of that era, and of course family drama. It’s hard to believe for people outside the USA that even in the States such harsh and inhuman treatment was handed out to women in need of special care. The author has pointed that more than any societal burden, both girls suffered more due to catholic semblance of the society.

The story of a family getting broken for silly reasons like health and sexual assault is really heartbreaking. Imagine two sisters couldn’t meet for no reasons strong. Literally, they remain separate for almost two decades. Still, the best part of the novel is the unposted letters of Shannon to Eliza. A lot of reminiscence gets scratched through the wording of the letters. Melancholy and intensity runs parallel throughout the story. The story is one and such that even after you close the book – the characterization and their lingering with the fate will keep you awake at many nights. Highly recommend novel.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Among all Ruskin Bond books, The Blue Umbrella has, so far, gathered immense applaud from readers and critics alike.  This is a short novel, but the kind of moral lessons it teaches to us are simply overwhelming.

This is a story of Binya, a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them well-groomed and rich. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella.


The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation for village…

Story Summary: The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson

The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson is a short story that highlights the importance of having suave and elegant manners at the time of travelling. In this story, we see that the narrator almost flies over 100,000 miles every year because of his job’s nature. So, we can say that the narrator is an accidental tourist, though he doesn’t enjoy travelling but still he has to because of his job. However in his own words he says that he is sort of a confused man who often forgets the roads and gets into wrong alleys or gets trapped into self-locking doors. In this story, he takes us to some of his awry travel experiences where he did some crazy things, though unwittingly.
Most of his experiences are based around airports or inside the flights. On one instant, while flying to England from Boston with family for Christmas, he forcibly opened the zip of his bag, as a result it broke down and all the stuff littered on the ground. This made him embarrassed and the people around him.
One day in…

Book Review: A Village in Garhwal by Ruskin Bond

There is no one better than Ruskin Bond to give you deep insights about the life in the Himalayan foothills. He lives in Mussoorie and thus knows the up and down of the hills, nearby and the farthest. You must have read many Ruskin Bond stories on the lives and culture of the Himalayan people living in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Well, this short story, A Village in Garhwal, takes you into Manjari village of Garhwal region. The author spends four days in the village, he was taken there by one of his friends Gajadhar. This village Manjari is located twenty-five miles away from Lansdown, a famous tourist place and center of Garhwal Rifles.

It takes two days to reach this village from the author’s native place. One needs to travel first by bus from Lansdown and then walk for five miles. The village is situated up the Nayar River – a tributary of the Ganges. One morning the author wakes up to the loud vociferous sound of Cicada. This sound reminds him of factory buzzer. The author …