Book 7 (and the last) book for RIP……….
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
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.
This is the fourth time that I have read The Thirteenth Tale for the RIP challenge. And since I do not write reviews well anymore…. this is what I wrote about it the last time I read it in 2008……………
Although this is a mystery.. and I do know the outcome, I still enjoyed reading this book. Maybe it’s because I am older and forget more, and forget it more quickly, I’m not sure. But I do know that as I began the book, it did not take long to grab hold of me to begin me on the journey that Margaret was about to begin when she decided to write Vida Winter’s biography.
For anyone who loves books this is a good book to read. In the beginning of the book, when Margaret was not sure she wanted to do the biography, while in her apartment I came across this passage of Margarets behavior:
It was nearly time. I moved swiftly. In the bathroom I soaped my face and brushed my teeth. By three minutes to eight I was in my nightdress and slippers, waiting for the kettle to boil. Quickly, quickly. A minute to eight my hot water bottle was ready, and I filled a glass with water from the tap. Time was of the essence. For at eight o’clock the world came to an end. It was reading time.
I can’t tell you how many times I have come close to this exact statement! At about seven each night I shut down my computer, turn off the living room television and fan and get ready to pile up my pillows on my bed to lean against and to grab my current read and "hit the bed to read"! Nearly ALL the time.. same routine!
This book, as it has done three other times, just takes a hold of me and I read way more hours than I normally do. I don’t seem to get as tired as quickly and one chapter leads to another and another as that’s how this story goes..I just could not put it down.
You find yourself wondering if you missed a clue to anything. (and more than likely you have, but that’s ok you will remember them when the time is right.) And other times you find yourself trying to figure out a piece of the story before it is revealed by Vida Winter.
This is such a fantastic book. The writing just refuses to let you go and do anything but continue reading, and once you are sucked into the mystery (which doesn’t take long!) you just have to know those untold secrets !
It’s so much fun when the secrets begin to emerge and you find yourself asking why you missed the clues! So subtle. But they are all there!
I finally let it go knowing I would come back to it some day…. I am shocked that I let it go this long, but I did enjoy it as much as the first time I read it……….Yeah.. in my opinion.. The Thirteenth Tale is that good!