The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale All Children Mythologize Their BirthSo 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 As Vida Disinters The Life She Meant To Bury For Good, Margaret Is Mesmerized It Is A Tale Of Gothic Strangeness Featuring The Angelfield Family, Including The Beautiful And Willful Isabelle, The Feral Twins Adeline And Emmeline, A Ghost, A Governess, A Topiary Garden And A Devastating Fire Margaret Succumbs To The Power Of Vida S Storytelling But Remains Suspicious Of The Author S Sincerity She Demands The Truth From Vida, And Together They Confront The Ghosts That Have Haunted Them While Becoming, Finally, Transformed By The Truth Themselves The Thirteenth Tale Is A Love Letter To Reading, A Book For The Feral Reader In All Of Us, A Return To That Rich Vein Of Storytelling That Our Parents Loved And That We Loved As Children Diane Setterfield Will Keep You Guessing, Make You Wonder, Move You To Tears And Laughter And, In The End, Deposit You Breathless Yet Satisfied Back Upon The Shore Of Your Everyday Life Sigh I really, really wanted to like this book I heard good things about it, and it has many elements I usually love in a novel a Victorian sensibility, questions of identity and sisterhood as well as siblinghood generally , meta commentary on writing, and a plain, quiet, somewhat chilly protagonist who prefers books to people The protagonist, Margaret, grew up in a bookstore and learned to read using 19th century novels, and there are clear parallels in the story to Jane Eyre, Wuthering He Sigh I really, really wanted to like this book I heard good things about it, and it has many elements I usually love in a novel a Victorian sensibility, questions of identity and sisterhood as well as siblinghood generally , meta commentary on writing, and a plain, quiet, somewhat chilly protagonist who prefers books to people The protagonist, Margaret, grew up in a bookstore and learned to read using 19th century novels, and there are clear parallels in the story to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw, and so on.And yet, with all it had going for it, somehow it fell flat for me Somehow it felt slight and, eventually, tedious at the same time There were definitely many interesting moments, but for some reason, the gothic elements of the story never swept me up in the passion and scandal the way it would if the Brontes or Wilkie Collins wrote it Obviously this is an unfair comparison since the Brontes and Collins are my favorite writers, but then again, if you re going to model your story on Jane Eyre and indeed, there were parts that really beat you over the head with it, stating the obvious instead of allowing the reader to infer for herself , you should be up to the task, right One of the problems, in my opinion, is that it seems Setterfield wanted a Chinese box construction ala Wuthering Heights, but whereas that novel drew me in and made me feel like I was personally sitting at Nelly s feet as she told me the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, somehow Setterfield s construction in which the novelist Vida Winter tells Margaret her story, and does so using third person, for a reason revealed later in the novel feels very distanced Margaret has a personal obsession which is supposed to parallel Miss the novel s term, not mine Winter s, but this obsession, for me at least, had me wishing Margaret would just get over it already Miss Winter s story stops adding much new information at a certain point, and later we are given the diaries of a minor character, which essentially only goes over information we already know Yet despite this, the ending feels rushed, and the mysterious thirteenth tale, which Margaret receives in writing toward the end, is only excerpted One wishes A.S Byatt had written this novel, as I suspect Setterfield may not have felt up to the task of writing the thirteenth tale, which has a fascinating premise Byatt, I am sure, would have written a gorgeous tale to end the book with.That s the bottom line, I suppose I just don t think Setterfield is that good a stylist The story should have drawn me in but didn t, and I set it down to writing that simply wasn t as imaginative or lovely as it could have been If I read that someone made hot, sweet tea ONE MORE TIME I was going to go crazy I like hot, sweet tea as much as the next Victorianist, but can t you find something else to describe, or a different way of doing it With all of the wonderful Victorian style writing going on now from former academics like Sarah Waters and AS Byatt, it s too bad this book didn t measure up I kept comparing it to the in my opinion wonderful The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which is also a first novel by a former academic The Historian has faults it s a little repetitious in certain points, it s unwieldly, there are some logic issues but it is so true to its Victorian predecessor Bram Stoker s Dracula in feeling, and it completely sucks you in pun intended I have discovered a personal preference I would rather have an overlong, unweildy, messy wonderful novel that completely absorbs me than a shorter, tidier, but slight novel that doesn t touch me emotionally Wow, did I just write a review that s longer than the book I just read There is something about words In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts Inside you they work their magicI don t know if I ve ever loved words so much.Lots of people told me that this was a book I needed to read, but many of those people also warned me that I might find it slow So I went into The Thirteenth TaThere is something about words In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts Inside you they work their magicI don t know if I ve ever loved words so much.Lots of people told me that this was a book I needed to read, but many of those people also warned me that I might find it slow So I went into The Thirteenth Tale prepared for a subtle plot that moved at a gentle pace well maybe my expectations are to blame but that wasn t what I got Slow Not for me There was not a slow moment in this story because the prose itself was dynamic and consumingly evocative I was intrigued by the mystery, seduced by the characters and caught up in page after page of well written family drama.Do you like 1 Books2 Mysteries3 Family dramasIf you said yes to those, then I really can t see any reason you wouldn t love this book People were right when they said it s a book for people who love books It is A love of literature and words is enthused in every page of this novel I find myself believing that had I not already been a bibliophile, an encounter with this book would be enough to have me drooling over the endless possibilities and magic that lie within stories I must confess that I am almost always a story person first, a character person at a close second and a language word person last This book delivered on all three, but it was the latter that most amazed me Setterfield completely seduces you with words I read passages over and over again because I loved the language and style so muchBooks are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at oncebanal andessential than that When I was a child, books were everything And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilledThe story is about a biographer called Margaret Lea who very suddenly and unexpectedly receives a hand written letter from the popular and critically acclaimed novelist Vida Winters Ms Winters wants Margaret to recount her life story, she wants to finally stop telling fictional stories and reveal the truth of her childhood and all its dark secrets Before accepting, Margaret reads and falls in love with one of the author s books called Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, but she is surprised to find that it contains only twelve stories where is the thirteenth tale Margaret finds herself unable to refuse the job And as Vida Winters opens upand , both women are forced to confront the demons of their pasts.I, for one, was totally sucked into every aspect of the story The writing had hold of me, the characters made me need to knowabout their lives, the mysteries surrounding Winters youth kept me guessing If it s possible, I think this book made me love books even .Blog Leafmarks Facebook Twitter Instagram Tumblr Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you You leave the previous book with ideas and themes characters even caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you This quote from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield sums up my experience with the book It s been a while since I ve felt truly drawn in to a novel Likely this is the result of my recent tendency toward s Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you You leave the previous book with ideas and themes characters even caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you This quote from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield sums up my experience with the book It s been a while since I ve felt truly drawn in to a novel Likely this is the result of my recent tendency toward selecting less than literary books in an attempt to find some distraction without devoting much real focus to the reading I ll admit that it took me a bit to get hooked, but, a few chapters in, I found myself thinking about the novel and the developing plot at times when I was unable to be reading.There is no reference to time in the setting of The Thirteenth Tale From the context clues, I d guess that it s set in the 1970s It s a world where people still write letters and where if phone lines go down in a storm, country homes are cut off from contact with civilization Manuscripts are written by hand The feel of the book is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, a novel that itself is woven throughout the plot.The story begins when Margaret Lea, a little published biographer, is summoned by Vida Winter, famous novelist Ms Winter is finally ready to tell her true life story, rather than another of the many versions she s given of her life over the years As she does so, Margaret and the reader are drawn into the mystery that shrouds Ms Winter Through the stories she tells Margaret as well as the accounts of Margaret s own investigations, we eventually learn the truth both about Ms Winter and the legendary Thirteenth Tale, a story that was left out of an early collection written by Ms Winter There are enough twists to keep the story interesting and unpredictable.The book jacket describes The Thirteenth Tale by stating, It is a tale of Gothic strangeness, featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden, and a devastating fire In reality, it s that and muchThis book lead me to wonder about identity, love, and the meaning of family I have a feeling these characters will indeed be in the fiber of my clothes for quite some time Tell me the truthThese are the words that a young journalist speaks to Vida Winter in the beginning of this book Vida is an author famous for spinning magical tales In books, and about her life Each time she releases a new story, she grants multiple interviews, in which every journalist asks her the story of her life, and leaves thinking that they, finally, after decades of deceptions, are the one she s told the truth to But she never does Until now Out of the blue, she writes to an aTell me the truthThese are the words that a young journalist speaks to Vida Winter in the beginning of this book Vida is an author famous for spinning magical tales In books, and about her life Each time she releases a new story, she grants multiple interviews, in which every journalist asks her the story of her life, and leaves thinking that they, finally, after decades of deceptions, are the one she s told the truth to But she never does Until now Out of the blue, she writes to an amateur biographer named Margaret Lea, telling her that she has chosen her to be her official biographer That she is finally ready to tell the truth What follows is something I find myself at a loss to describe Setterfield s prose is of the magical variety The kind that lifts from the pages to wrap you in its spell and transport you bodily into the book At one point in the story, Setterfield perfectly describes how I felt when I finally set it downThere was a sudden rush in my head, I felt the sick dizziness of the deep sea diver come too fast to the surface Aspects of my room came back into view, one by one My bedspread, the book in my hand, the lamp still shining palely in the daylight that was beginning to creep in through the thin curtains It was morning I had read the night awayI immediately woke up my fianc at 5 a.m on a Saturday and began to whisper to him about what I had just read Speaking at full volume didn t seem right, sacrilegious even, because I was still caught in this book s thrall and the ghosts of those who haunted the pages seemed to stalk my waking mind I finished it four days ago, and still my fingers twitch toward my beautiful hardcover copy Because The Thirteenth Tale is a book that you need to read at least twice in your life The first time, to learn the truth The second time, to see with eyes wide open what is really taking place within these pages This is easily one of my top 10 books of all time.This review can also be found at The Alliterates Reviewed by Rabid ReadsSo here s my problem with gothic literature it s so habitually grotesque that it s predictable.If there s not incest, there s a crazy wife in the attic If there s not a crazy wife in the attic, there s a murderous illegitimate son who s not right in the head Or conjoined twins Or a dying gypsy s curse Or something equally unsettling.So even if you guess the HEP Big Secret wrong, whatever it actually is isn t going to make a dent B c you ve already imagined the worst Reviewed by Rabid ReadsSo here s my problem with gothic literature it s so habitually grotesque that it s predictable.If there s not incest, there s a crazy wife in the attic If there s not a crazy wife in the attic, there s a murderous illegitimate son who s not right in the head Or conjoined twins Or a dying gypsy s curse Or something equally unsettling.So even if you guess the HEP Big Secret wrong, whatever it actually is isn t going to make a dent B c you ve already imagined the worst B c gothic.ALSOI don t like it.If I lived in the time of traveling freak shows, I would not attend Not my bag.You So why did you read it Me B c didn t realize it was gothic until I d already started it.You Why didn t you quit Me SCHADENFREUDE thestruggleisrealPlus, the concept is friggin amazing England s most beloved author, who s written 56 novels in 56 years, has zealously guarded her privacy She made her pen name her legal name, and has threatened any would be biographers with lawsuits until they backed down.Interviewing her has become a kind of rite of passage for journalists, b c she gives a different version of her life story to every, single one of them how cool is that But now she s dying, so she contacts our MC Margaret , an amateur biographer who s grown up in her father s rare bookshop a bibliophile s DREAM , and employs Margaret to write her life story before she leaves this mortal coil.After that is when it gets weird And gross And creepy And messed the eff up.Man alive, these people are CRAZY Including Margaret, who has an unhealthy fixation on her dead shortly after birth twin sister Genre preferences aside, there s no denying that this is a beautifully written book There is something about words In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts Inside you they work their magic. It s also mindbendingly clever The line between mental illness and the supernatural is so thin, so frail, so indecipherable, that even now, days later, I can t stop thinking about it were the ghosts real, or did they only exist in her mind I DON T KNOW EDVARD MUNCH FACE THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield is not a book you read then forget It stays with you, taking up brain space, whispering incessantly, like the five notes of a song you can t place, but can t escape It s beautiful and terrible And even if you avoid gothic novels like I do, this oneThis one deserves to be made an exception Highly recommended with trepidation I know that most people like to work out to Gnarls Barkley or Metallica or what have you, but I find gym based exercise so exceedingly boring that I require narrative to keep me going Since my motor coordination isn t sufficient enough to allow me to turn the pages of a magazine book AND pump the pedals on an elliptical trainer, sometime last summer I turned to Audible to solve my problems Now, what one requires from printed matter may not at all do for the recorded book, and in my case, it tu I know that most people like to work out to Gnarls Barkley or Metallica or what have you, but I find gym based exercise so exceedingly boring that I require narrative to keep me going Since my motor coordination isn t sufficient enough to allow me to turn the pages of a magazine book AND pump the pedals on an elliptical trainer, sometime last summer I turned to Audible to solve my problems Now, what one requires from printed matter may not at all do for the recorded book, and in my case, it turns out that I can only sustain listening interesting in heavily plot driven novels or extra dorkified pod casts of Wait, Wait Don t Tell Me sigh, Peter Segel Unfortunately, the intersections of a compelling plot and interesting writing are fairly few and far between, plus the narrator has to be a strong reader whose vocal stylings are not reminiscent of one s old junior high school high school drama club classmates This is difficult The literary writer trying on genre often works well John Banville as Benjamin Black is pretty good forgive my snobbery but only because the conventions of a straightforward mystery or sci fi novel can be a little cringe inducing when you actually hear them recited aloud But seriously, I love Science fiction, so no diss.Anyhoo, The Thirteenth Tale seemed as though it would fit the bill perfectly I mean, premise wise, it s the kind of book editors slaver over personal experience alert esp vis a vis potential audience, in other words, well heeled women possibly of a certain age The whole freaking novel is, in effect, a love letter to Jane Eyre and the other mega hits of the 19th century I m browsing Audible, thinking to myself o.k., talking out loud to myself Dark family secrets Check Wheels within wheels narrative Check Gloomy old English estate Check Both Victorian and presumably post war setting Check Antiquarian bookstore Check Lonely main character whose best friends are books Secondary main character who is a mysterious, isolated writer Check, and Check Unfortunately, I think the voice I was hearing in my head was actually Diane Setterfield s cajoling, coercive, whinging, and not my own Emphasis on coercive my main gripe about this mess of a novel is that while reading I couldn t shake the feeling that the author is constantly trying to impress upon the reader HOODWINK INTO BELIEVING,like it that this piece of moribund trash is actually a work of serious literature.Might I illustrate this vexing complaint for you Let s talk theme for a moment The central preoccupation of this novel is twinning, or twinness The two main characters are both twins not each other s , whose core identity has been formed by this as Diane Setterfield would have it division of one soul, one egg, one person, into two bodies The concept of the twin is the leitmotif of The Thirteenth Tale Unfortunately, Setterfield s entire take on the idea of the twin can be fairly summarized in the above italicized line Over the course of the book, she uses the same metaphor at least four times to describe separated twins or non twins the amputee She has nothing but the most obvious, predictable, easy, pop psychology thoughts to offer vis a vis twins, but these ideas are all delivered in overwrought, hyperbolic, purple prose Every time the main character, Margaret, catches sight of her reflection which occurs at least ten times she swoons into an overheated, almost laughable disquisition about her twin her reflection who waits for her just on the other side of this mortal coil Every Single Time.How about books Well, could you imagine that some clever minx would have us believe that books are like the ghosts of dead people I mean, as a committed life long reader I have never encountered nor thought of such a bold notion author s words outlive their bodies and thus reading might be an act of communion with the dead Whoa And also, dead folk might get lonely it s so lonely being dead and the act of reading is akin to an act of friendship and or companionship Fortunately for my feeble and limited imagination, Setterfield ensures that such concepts are inescapable in her novel s groundbreaking treatise on the delights literature has to offer.Setterfield makes the further mistake of declaring that Margaret s counterpoint, Vida Winter, is the greatest living English author of her day, a point that is crucial to the story s operation Her books have won legions of awards, and generations of journalists and biographers have been rebuffed in their frenzied attempts to discover her life story But Setterfield is not capable of convincing us that Winter is a great one of THE greats talent The narratives that Winter spins for Margaret are pale imitations of Atwood Byatt esque storylines Setterfield s insistence that we believe Winter is a cannonized author damages the credibility of the rest of the novel, especially as it relates to the reader s required suspension of disbelief Of course, the problem is that Setterfield is not nor should she be the greatest living English author, nor even close to it, and she s overreaching in trying to depict Winter as such It s sort of like an unfunny writer trying to write a funny character the author doesn t possess the tools to show us that the character is funny, but can only tell us she is Honestly, I could continue on in my screed for quite a while longer, but I think I should save my energies for positive reviews Let me just mention that this novel s construction, pacing, and plotting are all askew as well, and that its ultimate resolution is a huge disappointment Perhaps my take is soured by the fact that I spent fourteen hours listening to this novel, instead of four or so hours reading it But my feeling is that what could have been a fun homage to the nineteenth century novel became instead a dull trainwreck of a book, derailed by its own inflated sense of literary import If anyone knows of a better, but similar in texture, novel to accompany me on my upcoming travels adventures in exercise, I d love to hear it Thanks This has finally come out in paperback This is that one that got an 800,000 advance and is meant to be the best book since sliced bread To be honest I don t hold out a lot of hope.On P 138I take it back I have been sucked in straight away Can barely put it down Whiich is apt seeing as amonst other things it is the tale of books and their words sucking you in It is also the tale of a dying writer and her reluctant biography, lost twins and the ghosts of the past Like The House at Rive This has finally come out in paperback This is that one that got an 800,000 advance and is meant to be the best book since sliced bread To be honest I don t hold out a lot of hope.On P 138I take it back I have been sucked in straight away Can barely put it down Whiich is apt seeing as amonst other things it is the tale of books and their words sucking you in It is also the tale of a dying writer and her reluctant biography, lost twins and the ghosts of the past Like The House at Riverton it has a very Brontesque Gothic atmosphere to it it is also set in Cambridge and the Yorkshire Moors my two favourite places And timeless It could be set anytime Whilst it seems modern there are no mobile phones or laptops or other such superfluous crap which makes me think it is a different plane of now It also reminds me of Donna Tart I m not really sure why as it covers none of the themes that Tart obsesses with Maybe it is my utter empathy with the narrator, which I got with the Little Friend and also from the characters in The Secret History This time a solitary girl happier around books than people On finishingIs there a new trend for the Brontesque at the moment The second novel in as many weeks I have read that draws heavily on the themes of the sisters In fact the Thirteenth Tale is unashamedly Jane Eyre mixed with a little Wilkie Collins and Henry James , but it is in such a way that the book is a homily to Charlotte rather than a plagerism.I opened this with every intention of hating it for yetoverhyped nonsense I haven t enjoyed a contemporary novel so much since the Secret History and believe me that is high praise indeed We live like latecomers at the theatre we must catch up as best we can, dividing the beginning from the shape of later eventsThe Thirteenth Tale had been waiting in my TBR list for almost two years, before I finally decided to start reading it It proved to be a rare bibliophile s experience.In the Gothic Literature group October Reading and in a recent discussion with a friend in Goodreads, I described Diane Setterfield s novel as foreboding Each scene, each sentence is a creationWe live like latecomers at the theatre we must catch up as best we can, dividing the beginning from the shape of later eventsThe Thirteenth Tale had been waiting in my TBR list for almost two years, before I finally decided to start reading it It proved to be a rare bibliophile s experience.In the Gothic Literature group October Reading and in a recent discussion with a friend in Goodreads, I described Diane Setterfield s novel as foreboding Each scene, each sentence is a creation of art, each detail so important, nothing is wasted Each page leads to the shocking final twist, although some of the twists in the middle of the book were a bit predictable, if you paid attention I will not go into any detail of the plot, because it is hard to do so without falling into the trap of spoiling something, but I can say that the lover of books will find a treasure of references The most prominent reference is Jane Eyre and rightfully so , with Wuthering Heights and The Woman in White following closely Why Foreboding houses, problematic narrators, troubled heroines, and all the sins and faults of the past that go on haunting families and places Even Sherlock Holmes gets an honourable mention, since there are some riddles that require answers as there are some characters that desire truth and others that seek absolution.For some reason, Miss Winter reminds me of a modern Miss Havisham, from the first glimpse of her through the eyes of Margaret Lea, the young amateur biographer Margaret is a very interesting character that stands as equal to the troubled Vida She is sensitive, almost fragile, but strong at the same and so determined to exorcise her own demons The Thirteenth Talehas all the characteristics of a heavy cloud before the storm It is a classic, a haunting tale, its prose elegant and poetic A tale that shows us that the most dangerous ghosts exist not in a world beyond, but fully in our own The Thirteenth Tale is a gothic suspense novel from 2006 with echoes from several Victorian novels The familiar device of a story within a story is employed, and sometimes it even contains another story This story telling tradition strongly reminds the reader of earlier classic tales In fact the rule of threes goes throughout this book echoing its fairytale feel There is the structure of the book itself,Beginnings, Middles and EndingsThere are three generations in the earlier sag The Thirteenth Tale is a gothic suspense novel from 2006 with echoes from several Victorian novels The familiar device of a story within a story is employed, and sometimes it even contains another story This story telling tradition strongly reminds the reader of earlier classic tales In fact the rule of threes goes throughout this book echoing its fairytale feel There is the structure of the book itself,Beginnings, Middles and EndingsThere are three generations in the earlier saga There were three promises extracted by the amanuensis from the author The settings and characters are familiar to us from earlier books too A musty library in a decrepit old house with rambling gardens, grotesque ancients, the impressionable young woman, the worthy servants, the governess, unearthly children, generations of twins, the dependable doctor, the stuffy lawyer, ghostly apparitions and strong hints that all is not what it appears to be.The novel starts strongly with a chapter that is every bibliophile s dream Margaret Lea is an introverted young woman, living and working in her father s antiquarian bookshop The musty atmosphere of the bookshop and her life is powerfully depicted There are descriptions here which are breathtaking Setterfield shows you very early on that she really can writeThere is something about words In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts Inside you they work their magic Which reader would not relate to that feeling But this story cannot really stay there, even though we have an intriguing situation already, as it is clearly depicted from the start that Margaret s mother is reclusive, unwell and has no real relationship with anybody, least of all her daughter But another element is brought in straightaway Margaret Lea is requested by a strange handwritten letter to write a biography The letter is from Vida Winter, a famous novelist who has notoriously never told the truth about herself in all her many interviews, so that there are dozens of unreliable accounts Margaret is an odd choice, only previously having published short snippets and biographical articles She knows nothing about the works of this author or any modern authors but is intrigued and immediately starts reading Vida Winter s works She is surprised to be spellbound by the novels, and what finally decides her is one book which only has 12 tales, although the title isThirteen Tales of Change and DesperationQuestioning her father, it is revealed that this is a rare, perhaps the only, copy in existence There is a mystery surroundingThe Thirteenth Tale as the only copies including this story were pulled by the publisher, subsequent editions were retitled, but the general public always remembered the original title and many book lovers had sought an explanation Of course this is now an irresistible proposition, and Margaret accepts.Have you spotted the first gigantic, explicit coincidence Of course Margaret has to work in an antiquarian bookshop to be privy to this book It is not possible that her employer would know that she had access to this sole copy And the name Winter Who does that make the reader think of in a novel with an oldfashioned feel, where the heroine so far is a nervous young woman about to set foot in an enormous old mansion inhabited by an imposing elderly woman Of course Mrs de Winter Just twist the characters a little and you have it.Again, the early part of the descriptions, where Margaret Lea meets the author are a joy to read The mansion was old and had been opulent The reader has an impression that it was overstuffed with furniture and heavy material, even upon the walls The description is evocative and sensuous Then Margaret finds the libraryThe other rooms were thick with the corpses of suffocated words here in the library you could breathe Instead of the fabric it was a room made of wood At this point she meets her employer, and it is absolutely clear that yes, this is a gothic novel in the true tradition It must be said though, that it is rather heavyhanded We are still very early on in the novel and it is beginning to feel derivative The reader has espied references toJane Eyre , Wuthering Heights andRebecca , and when Vida begins the tale of her life storyThe Turn of the Screw andThe Woman in White come instantly to mind Just as a precaution though, to really hammer it home, Setterfield mentions four of these books in the narrative in fact there are continual rather irritating refences toJane Eyre. It is a leitmotif, and evidently Setterfield wants to pay homage to the Brontes, butsubtle references would have beenenjoyable for the reader.As the novel proceeds the reader developsof an interest in the retelling of Vida Winter s story as well as her view spoiler gradual deterioration, mirrored by the mental deterioration of the viewpoint character, Margaret hide spoiler It is a complicated tale over three generations, including love, loss, betrayal, masochism, torture, mental anguish, death and committal to an asylum Because of the narrative style however, it is very easy to read The writing flows smoothly and hypnotically, drawing you into the tale much as Vida Winter s books were said to draw the reader into her invented worlds The evocative descriptions still stand outOn the moors, enraged by the wind and embittered by the chill, the rain was vicious Needles of ice stung my face and behind me, vessels of freezing water burst against my shoulders Or these powerful pictures of a disoriented mindAll morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you You leave the previous book with ideas and themes characters even caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you this piece of reality has been lost My memory of what happened is fragmented Whole tracts of time have collapsed in on themselves, whilst other events seem in my recollection to have happened over and over again in rapid succession Part are pure melodrama view spoilerInside my head was a half painful, half euphoric vibration It was her song My sister was cominghide spoiler This gothic novel is an enjoyable quick read It is however very melodramatic a novel of sensation A reader who has not thrilled toThe Turn of the Screwor been caught up in sensationalist Bronte effects may well not enjoy this novel Because of the explicit references to earlier classic gothic novels, the reader has to assume this is a tribute to them, rather than a pastiche or unconscious imitation In the end though, one feels that there is little originality or credibility The reader deduces that it is set in the recent past However the viewpoint character is scarcely believable in a modern age Such hysteria surely belongs to an earlier age when women wore their corsets too tight This has been put forward as a valid reason for many medical and behavioural problems Old does not inevitably have to be grotesque neither does deformity Some of the secondary characters such as Aurelius, John the dig or the missus , are stereotypical characters with no depth However the story is competent and engaging it has been put together ingeniously, there is an unexpected reveal near the end, and parts of it are beautifully written It has a hypnotic quality and lovely narrative flow This is the author s first novel, and promises well if she stops being so rooted in the gothic canon and makes a bold leap into the unknown and the supernatural she is clearly so drawn to Amazing for a debut While a homage to classic gothic novels no need to be a fan pick it up if you re into mysteries with plenty of psychological twists, ambiance and above all suspense Setterfield excels in the slow build, at stringing you along, feeding you morsels bit by tantalizing bit almost toys with you until you grow impatient, at least I did About 1 3 of the way in I reconciled myself to the fact that she insisted on setting her own pace and simply would not be rushed That s when Amazing for a debut While a homage to classic gothic novels no need to be a fan pick it up if you re into mysteries with plenty of psychological twists, ambiance and above all suspense Setterfield excels in the slow build, at stringing you along, feeding you morsels bit by tantalizing bit almost toys with you until you grow impatient, at least I did About 1 3 of the way in I reconciled myself to the fact that she insisted on setting her own pace and simply would not be rushed That s when I relaxed, immersed myself in this tragic tale of arson, incest, insanity, abandonment, and murder.Great premise, picture someone like J.K Rowling on her deathbed choosing you to reveal her deepest darkest secrets too, you get the idea Amateur biographer Margaret is hired by reclusive world famous author Vita Winter to chronicle her life, an author who s perfected writing fiction, keeping secrets, mastered deceptionMy gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself What you need are the plump comforts of a story The soothing, rocking safety of a lieTerrific dialog, a host of intriguing characters Hester as thedumpy, potato faced, provincial governessa standout Cons Compared to Vita s tale Margaret s felt like clutter I did like the contrast of temperaments, the pitting of wills Plus the resolution was a little too pat.For the genre of gothic suspense 4 stars Read on the heels of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a smooth as silk transition that so worked for me I m rounding this up to a 5

✅ The Thirteenth Tale  PDF / Epub ⚣ Author Diane Setterfield – Oaklandjobs.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 406 pages
  • The Thirteenth Tale
  • Diane Setterfield
  • English
  • 01 September 2017
  • 0743298020