Margaret Lea is a lover of books, but has previously shied away from the infamous Vida Winter, who has been called the modern day Charles Dickens. She has published over 50 novels, most of which became instant best sellers, but her books are perhaps the least interesting thing about her. You see, Vida Winter's has never told her story to anyone. Every journalist gets a different life story, with a different family, in a different country with varying degrees of privilege. When Margaret receives a letter from Ms Winters asking for her to writer her long anticipated biography, Margaret doesn't realize her life is about to be changed forever by a haunting and true story that is worthy of any classic Gothic novel.
The Thirteenth Tale is a book for book lovers. It's as simple as that. This isn't to say that the casual reader wouldn't enjoy this beautiful example of story telling, just that those who look at the space between pages as a second home will enjoy it more. Setterfield has taken care to make her characters painfully real on all levels, defining them by their flaws and making them relate-able by their hopes and fears. The hardest to deal with, in my opinion, is Margaret, who's obsession over a sister she never knew has overshadowed her life.
What I enjoyed most about The Thirteenth Tale was the overwhelming feel of a classic Gothic novel. It is reminiscent of something one of the Brontë sisters would have written a hundred years ago. The moors, the ghosts and this odd, otherworldly connection that seems to exist between all of the characters create a timeless reading experience.
The one negative that kept gnawing at me in the beginning of the novel was how much I had to suspend my disbelief. A lot of things were just slightly off about the introductions that were being made - a mysterious letter from a mysterious woman is more often then not a start to a Da Vinci Code type novel, not one like this, but that's really just my personal preference.
All in all I absolutely loved this book and encourage any fellow book lovers to pick it up. I also found the interview with Diane Setterfield in the back of my paperback copy really interesting. So what are you waiting for - go check this book out!