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Archive for July, 2014

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0743298039

(guess what I just finished reading… again!)

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Amazon.com Review

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!

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The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Series: Quality Paperbacks Series
Paperback: 504 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press(February 2000)
ISBN-10: 030680476X

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The long and eventful life of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) was full of rich experiences and courageous actions. The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, she married a distant relative and Columbia University law student named Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he gradually ascended throughout the world of New York politics to reach the U.S. presidency in 1932. Throughout his three terms, Eleanor Roosevelt was not only intimately involved in FDR’s personal and political life, but led women’s organizations and youth movements and fought for consumer welfare, civil rights, and improved housing. During World War II she traveled with her husband to meet leaders of many powerful nations; after his death in 1945 she worked as a UN delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, world-traveler, and diplomat. By the end of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was recognized throughout the world for her fortitude and commitment to the ideals of liberty and human rights. Her autobiography constitutes a self-portrait no biography can match for its candor and liveliness, its wisdom, tolerance, and breadth of view—a self-portrait of one of the greatest American humanitarians of our time.

So………

July turned into a month of doctors, tests, and not feeling well..so the fact that this one book even got read is a small miracle!

I am sure I would have read this a lot faster had it not been for the things mentioned above and then add to it that I have read numerous books on Eleanor Roosevelt and I have to admit that this book didn’t have anything I didn’t already know.

I will say though that as a writer you had the feeling that you were sitting down with Eleanor and listening to her talk.  Very relaxing and very “I feel I know you”.

A small disappointment is that she actually had a good part of this book talking of Franklin and his Presidential choices and decisions.  Again, I had already read a number of books on them both and I was ready for “just Eleanor”.

I will always wish I had written to her when I was in High School, since she passed after I graduated. Such a fabulous lady. Such empathy. More people should be like her.

If you would like to read about her there are many books out there.. but if you want to “hear her voice” then this would be a good book.  (It’s also much shorter then most books on the Roosevelts!!)

I know history is not for everyone.  And it took me until maybe 2 yrs ago before it interested me.  But I think my next “history” book will be on someone else. Not sure who yet  🙂

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