Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Book: The Thirteenth Tale

I've been wanting the read The Thirteenth Tale for awhile now but I was waiting until it came out in paperback. Then when I was at Target yesterday, there it was! With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be a great choice! Here's a review from Amazon:

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.

Margaret has a story of her own: she was one of conjoined twins and her sister died so that Margaret could live. She feels an otherworldly aura sometimes or a yearning for a part of her that is forever missing. Vida's story involves two wild girls--feral twins (is she one of them?)--who would have been better off being suckled by wolves. Instead, their mother and uncle, involved in things too unsavory to contemplate, combine to neglect them woefully. There's also a governess, a Doctor, a kindly housekeeper, a gardener, and another presence--a very strange presence--which Margaret perceives as a ghost at first. Making obeisance to other great ghost stories, there is a deadly fire, a beautiful old house gone to ruin, and always that presence.... 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

For a more detailed synopsis, check on the The Thirteenth Tale website.

I am only a few chapters in, but so far, I really enjoy the story. The writing is rich in vocabulary is and abundant with metaphors and personification that can make something as abstract as a lie seem like a character itself -- a language arts teacher's dream! (Just check out the quote listed under "Favorite Book Quotes" in the right column!) More on The Thirteenth Tale later!


Well I finished the book and really enjoyed it! It was different from some books I've read recently in the sense that it wasn't a page turner like The Davinci Code, which I quickly devoured. This book instead was a much slower read, but I believe, it should be! It's no fast food dinner that one wolfs down in the car. The author instead carefully, and artfully crafts a full eight course meal with suprises under each domed plate. As you savor each chapter, your anticipation for the next grows, yet the author will only give you one bite at a time. As you slowly make your way through the book, she saves the best surprise for last. And what a tasty, suprising dessert it is!

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