A SLENDER THREAD

Katharine Davis

A gripping novel of two sisters who must reimagine the future-before they’re ready to let go of the past.

As a girl, Margot Winkler knew her big sister Lacey would keep her safe. Decades later, Lacey’s home is often Margot’s refuge. Lacey’s life has seemed close to perfect-a loving husband, twin daughters on the brink of womanhood, and a home filled with her beautiful hand-woven textiles. But everything changes when Lacey reveals some devastating news. A rare disease is slowly stealing her ability to use language. Now Margot must imagine the future and find the courage to help her sister discover a new voice,

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A gripping novel of two sisters who must reimagine the future-before they’re ready to let go of the past.

As a girl, Margot Winkler knew her big sister Lacey would keep her safe. Decades later, Lacey’s home is often Margot’s refuge. Lacey’s life has seemed close to perfect-a loving husband, twin daughters on the brink of womanhood, and a home filled with her beautiful hand-woven textiles. But everything changes when Lacey reveals some devastating news. A rare disease is slowly stealing her ability to use language. Now Margot must imagine the future and find the courage to help her sister discover a new voice, keenly aware of the slender threads that bind them to this life, and to each other.

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  • NAL
  • Paperback
  • August 2010
  • 352 Pages
  • 9780451230102

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About Katharine Davis

Born in Summit, New Jersey, Katharine Davis grew up in Europe. While living in the Washington, DC area she taught French, worked at the National Gallery of Art, and raised two children.

She began writing fiction in 1999. Capturing Paris (St. Martin’s Press, 2006) was her first novel. Recommended in Real Simple Spring Travel 2007, the novel was also included in the New York Times suggestions for fiction set in Paris. Her second novel, East Hope, published by New American Library in 2009, won the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance 2010 Award for Fiction. A Slender Thread, New American Library 2010, is her third novel.

Katharine Davis lives with her husband in New York City and spends summers writing in southern Maine. She is now working on a novel set in Florence, Italy during the summer of 1969.

Praise

“Luminous and deeply affecting…In this novel of the complex bonds of sisters and the pernicious effects of a rare illness, Katharine Davis memorably captures the language of family. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and it was a pleasure to watch it take shape.”
Susan Coll, author of Beach Week and Acceptance

“In A Slender Thread, Katharine Davis illuminates the threads that tie us to family and the ones we loved. She reminds us of both their fragility and their strength. A beautiful book.”
Ann Hood, author of The Red Thread and The Knitting Circle

“The multiple viewpoints of Katharine Davis’s A Slender Thread weave in and out of chapters like threads in a tapestry, illustrating the intricate, complicated ties that bind us as family. While this compelling story shows just how fragile –and therefore precious –are our connections to each other, Davis also shows that even the slenderest of threads can have the surprising strength and resilience to hold it (and us) together.”—Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals.

“With a delicate and loving touch, Katharine Davis explores a deep and often complex relationship –the one between two sisters. Like the tapestry that becomes central to the story itself, A Slender Thread is a beautiful and utterly original creation . . . . Emotionally honest, meticulously observed, but also propulsively dramatic and readable, this is a novel that will resonate with women of all ages –and with everone who loves a good story, well told. If you have sisters, you’ll want to share A Slender Thread with them. If you don’t, it will serve as solace –and a powerful testament –to what you are missing.”—Liza Gyllenhall, author of Local Knowledge.

Discussion Questions

What’s your overall reaction to the novel? Do you connect strongly with the characters and their situation?

Have you known anyone with a degenerative, debilitating illness? How were their lives, and the lives of those around them, changed by the prognosis? In addition to big, obvious changes associated with their care, were there also subtle shifts in the interconnected relationships? 

Margot suffered a disastrous first marriage, which has made her reluctant to marry again. Have you known people who  rushed into marriage and then regretted it? Were there danger signs that Margot might have recognized, or does marriage always require a blind leap of faith? 

Why do you think it matters to Lacey to have Margot make a commitment to Oliver? If children are not involved, do you think a marriage ceremony is necessary for a long-term loving relationship between two people? 

Do you have a place like Bow Lake, which you associate with idealized times from your childhood? Has it continued to be part of your life? Have you known people in retirement who  have decided to live in a vacation place where they spent time growing up?

Was your first love anything like Margot’s few days with Alex at Bow Lake? 

Do you think Lacey secretly knows that her husband was Margot’s first love? Would it make a difference in how she feels  about Margot all these many years later? 

Are there points in the novel when the characters behave in ways that made you dislike them? Who and when? Are there times when you especially liked them? 

What do you think of Margot’s decision to return several times to Lacey’s home to help out? Is Margot right or wrong to step in? Have you ever been torn between duty to your extended family and to those closer to home, including yourself? 

Is A Slender Thread more a story about Lacey or is it more about Margot? Why? Lacey lives on a small island off the coast of New Hampshire and Margot lives on the island of Manhattan. Is there a significance to these locations? Does where the sisters live have anything to do with the way they choose to live their lives? 

Discuss the importance of weaving in A Slender Thread, in other literature, and in the lives of women over the centuries. Remember Sleeping Beauty, who falls under an enchantment when she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel? Remember Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey, who weaves by day and then secretly   pulls apart her work at night while waiting faithfully for her     husband, Odysseus, to return from his long absence? 

The popularity of knitting and crafts suggests that women enjoy making beautiful things they can wear or use in their homes. Has our current reliance on electronic technology created a yearning in us for objects of beauty that we can touch, make, and admire? If you are drawn to handwork of any kind, how does it make you feel when you are doing it? Do you find it relaxing or meditative, or do you find pleasure in accomplishing something in your free time?