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A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

Violet is 38. The First World War took everything from her. Her brother, her fiancé – and her future. She is now considered a ‘surplus woman’. But Violet is also fiercely independent and determined. Escaping her suffocating mother, she moves to Winchester to start a new life. A change that will require courage, resilience – and acts of quiet rebellion. And when whispers of another world war surface, she must live with a secret that could change everything.

It’s a beautifully written book, very evocative of the time and in which the difficulties of living as an independent woman at that time are well-drawn in a way that is both alien to us and yet relatable and painful to observe. It paints a portrait of the women who have lost so much of their future as a result of the war, the way that societal expectations try to limit them, and the courage it takes to forge a different path. Violet is not without her sadnesses but she is determined and capable and has her father’s gift of knowledge and self-belief to draw upon. And the story of the women who find a purpose amongst the broderers of the cathedral and the men who find community in bellringing is a fascinating historical detail. One of our highest scoring books.

Overall score: 8.4

Range: 8 – 9

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