Monday, August 30, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale

Diane Setterfield

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!


Melissa said...

I enjoyed this one as well. Loved the gothic feel.

Jillian said...

Yay glad you loved it! This is one of my favorite books, and I have to agree one of the reasons why I loved it so much was because of the whole Gothic-feel to it. Have you read Jane Eyre? They are almost very similar to each other, which I just adored!

Very underrated book in my opinion; deserves to be read by more people! Great review :)

Kathy said...

I really enjoyed this one too! My kind of book. A story that draws me in and keeps me flipping pages, driven by curiosity; well-developed characters, excellent writing, a good dose of mystery, wonderful atmosphere, not superficial. I have a couple of friends who found it slow to start, but not me. I was grabbed by the first page.

DizzyC said...

I loved this book. Fab read for me.

Havent seen anything by Diane Settlefield recently.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I loved, loved, LOVED this book!! There were some moments that I had to throw out logic sometimes, but unlike other books, it was totally cool with me to do it for this one! Love Gothic...!

Avid Reader said...

I loved this one too! Something about a good gothic tale just gets me every time!

Lily Child said...

Great review! I feel like you really captured the theme of this book well! It makes me want to read it all over again! :P

Anonymous said...

Visiting from the bloghop. Love this imagery: "those who look at the space between pages as a second home will enjoy it more"