1/7/08

The Thirteenth Tale — Review by Carole

Do you like creepy, gothic novels? Not out-an-out horror, mind you, but the type of book that gives you goosebumps and keep you up reading WAY past your bedtime. If so, then Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale is for you.

It's got it all — insanity, depravity, misdirection, ghosts, repression, tragedy. Even allusions to Jane Eyre. It all begins when Vida Winters, a world-renowned author, reaches out to lonely biographer, Margaret Lea, to finally tell her story.

"Everyone has a story," Vida explains to Margaret in one of their early meetings. Margaret isn't so sure. Her own story is one she has never told, yet she finds herself compelled to write Winters' story precisely because of her own. Their own remarkable stories of twinness and what that means to each of them makes for a fascinating read.

The tricky thing is that Winters has told her story many times over the years, but she hasn't ever told the truth. The truth, as Lea learns through her research, means so very much to some people, and yet, it has the ability to destroy others.

My sisters-in-law and I read this one for our book club, and it was a rousing hit with everyone. We loved Margaret's father and we want his bookshop to be real.

Setterfield takes you many places with this story — the challenge is to see what is really there. This was a re-read for me, and I have to say that I enjoyed it even more the second time around. I think when you re-read a book, which I don't do often, you get the opportunity to really look at how the author tells the story rather than just the story itself.

This was Setterfield's debut novel, and I look forward to seeing what she come up with next.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Now I want to go back and re-read these re-reads you've enjoyed so much!

I just re-read The Book of Lost Things, which I enjoyed, and I keep promising myself a nice leisurely re-read of No Angel.

Now, some of my fave books get regular reads, like The Phantom Tollbooth and Wicked (which is NOTHING like the musical!). However, I'm going for Time Traveler's Wife and The Thirteenth Tale this year!

Corinne said...

While I was on vacation, I decided to pick up "The Thirteenth Tale" and I absolutely loved it. It had plot turns I wasn't expecting and I thought it really captured the imagination.

As for re-reading, I am always a fan. Most of the books I have read, I have enjoyed re-reading. I think that you always get something more out of a book the second (or third) time you read them.