Tuesday 3 March 2015

Hitting the nail on the head

Every so often,when I read  a book, something hits the nail on the head so accurately that it's like a lightbulb being switched on. It happened to me last week, when I was reading Anne Tyler's latest novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. 

I love Anne  Tyler's  novels, and have read them all. She writes beautifully, describing the small lives of ordinary people, and her observations are always both acute and accurate. In this novel, I came across a little sentence that rang so many bells: "a mother is only as happy as the least happy of her children". Nothing earth-shattering; not especially brilliant prose; but (for me, at least) so true. For at any given time, I too am only as happy as the least happy of my children.

That's not to say that my family are any less happy than anyone else's (or, come to that,  that I spend all my time fretting about them), but as in all families, there's usually someone with a problem, and sometime it's a big one. And that child, and that problem, are at the forefront of my mind for as long as it takes (not always one child or one problem, either).

Do you have any quotations that have stayed with you, as this one has with me?


  1. Someone once told me to 'never make other people's problems into my problems'. It's slightly the opposite to your quotation, but it's served me well. This does NOT apply to family!

  2. Years ago when I was struggling to make sense of the world I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

    I was a very disillusioned Christian. This quotation put it all in perspective for me.

    “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”

    I'm back.

  3. I have just discovered Anne Tyler, and enjoyed Noah's Compass. So I shall be reading more of her. I totally empathise with the quotation. When everyone in the family is happy, then I am happy too. I can't think of a quotation off hand, but I think I'll hang on to yours if you don't mind.

    1. You're welcome, Maggie. Anne Tyler's earlier novels are the best, I think. The Tin CanTree is one of my favourites.

  4. I've read things which strike a chord in that way, but I'm not good at remembering them.

  5. I know that somewhere I have several of Ann Tyler's books but I can only recall reading The Accidental Tourist. I must have enjoyed it to have acquired more.

    I used to make a note of all such phrases and sentences. You now have me wondering where on earth I stored them. One that I can recall although I cannot attribute it is "If I were 20 minutes younger."