Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon A Time...

I found myself exceedingly engaged by the twist and turns of this book, I was gripped from the first page to the last. I was so intrigued that I could hardly put it down.  The narration was so well-done; the transition between Margaret’s present life and Vida’s past was delivered smoothly, there was no obstruction in the flow of the story. 
"There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic."

Margaret Lea lives in an antiquarian bookshop since she was a babe, now run both by her and her father. It wasn't exactly a happy or exciting life, but a quiet one. Every now and then, she publishes biographies and such. It was more like a hobby than an occupation, really. This explains her big surprise when she received an invitation from one of England’s renowned authors to write the person’s biography.
"I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy."

Vida Winter is a beloved author. She’s a master weaver of stories; her books are all best sellers. People have been vying to know her real story, but none can get to any amount of truth. As part of their agreement, Margaret gets to have 3 truths out from Ms. Winter, things she can investigate for herself. In Angelfield there was talk of madness, scandals and possible ghost sightings –and the only person who holds the truth is reaching the end of her life. As Vida’s secrets were unraveled, Margaret’s own ghost haunted her.
"A good story is always more dazzling than a broken piece of truth."

This book has plenty to offer – beautiful prose, intriguing characters, and a Gothic atmosphere that completes the whole mysterious effect of the story. This is a book for book lovers, the whole book is peppered with meaningful passages. And as all well-written books go, the readers will keep seeking answers as she reads.
"People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write, they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word, they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic."

I love this book. It was such a delectable experience. I only wish that I had read it sooner. 

Book details:
Title:  The Thirteenth Tale
Publication: Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★


  1. Woohoo! You've finally read it! Now go see the wonderful TV movie! Setterfield has a new book out by the way -- Bellman & Black. So far, it has gotten mixed reviews.

    1. Hi, Peter!
      I just saw the film this afternoon. Although they left some parts out, the gist of the story was very well made. Thank you for telling me about it. ♥