Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield was published in 2006. I just finished this book, and it kept me guessing almost all the way through the story, something I love in a book and especially in a mystery.

In this story we meet Vida Winter, and prolific writer who is now nearing the end of her life and wants Margaret Lea, a young woman who lives above and works in her father's bookshop to write her biography. Vida has lied to all other biographers who have attempted to tell her story. Will she tell the truth to Margaret?

This story twines classic literature into the story, but that still didn't help me figure out the mystery even though the clues are there. There are many unlikable characters in this book, but they are mostly well developed, although I would have liked to know more about Charlie and Isabelle's motivations and why they were such a mental mess.

Blurb from Goodreads.com: "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."

I found this feeling of this story reminiscent of Du Maurier's Rebecca. The beginning was a bit slow, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

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