Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Dark, mysterious, and an all together great read. This book was amazing. I found it when it first came out and read it over a rainy two day period. I was totally engrossed and was sad to see it end. After recommending it to several friends, I reread the book a few weeks ago and listened to the audio on my long commute. Both the audio and book still held me enthralled. One co-worker, Wonder Woman (dubbed so by the March Hare) and I have spent every lunch for three weeks talking about this book. Wonder Woman even wrote notes in her copy, which as a librarian I am greatly disturbed by! LOL. Why is this all important? Because The Thirteenth Tale is one of those stories that gets under your skin.

The novel weaves together the lives of two women. One is Margaret Lea, a novice biographer and our narrator for the novel. It is through Margaret's eyes that we learn her story and that of the mysterious Vida Winters, England's best loved author. The tale that unwinds before us is a maze of mystery and verbal slight-of-hand. What you think you know if often incorrect and those nagging shadows of thought often prove to mean something deeper.

This is a love story written to anyone who has ever had a deep romance with reading. There is a line I love, spoken early by Margaret. "Reading is dangerous." It's in a part of the book where she talks about being so engrossed in a book as a child that she relaxed her body and fell off a wall. As a reader I understood that line. In a great book you can lose yourself within the realm of the book and not know there is any other world. Reading CAN be dangerous. Reading can let you live many lives. My greatest disappointment in this book is that it ends and there is nothing else I have found quite like it.

Book Description :
All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

1 comment:

sharkgila said...

I loved this book. The tale is very absorbing.