The Thirteenth Tale
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
(guess what I just finished reading… again!)
Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.
There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:
"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."
She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller."
"I am a biographer, I work with facts."
The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida's plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story's end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told. --Valerie Ryan
So… I felt the need to reread something that I know I liked so that I really didn’t have to be “spot on” with my comprehension as I already knew what happened. This is my fourth reading of The Thirteenth Tale.
Since it has been at least 2 years since I last read the book I knew there would be some things I hadn’t remembered. Not long ago Diane Setterfield came out with a second book called Bellman and Black. I think I was expecting something along the lines of Thirteenth Tale, which it was not, and so I was disappointed in her second book, but if she puts out a third one day I will certainly read it.
This book is the type I like for mysteries. Vida Winter asks Margaret Lea to write her biography. She comes to learn that there are many family secrets to discover. Many she gets told by Vida (slowly) and some she stumbles upon and manages to find for herself.
Of course, unless you are extremely sharp, the end has a bit of a twist…which I did start to figure out, but still came as a surprise. (well ok.. not a surprise since I have read it before). Setterfield’s writing in this book is just fabulous. No matter how many times I’ve read it, I figured it would be a slow go for me they way I have been lately with my reading. But, she hooked me good and even with my problems I could never let the book lie for very long without picking it up again for yet another chapter.. or two… or three. (short chapters!!)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… if you want a creepy, try to figure it out mystery… this is a book you should read!