In the Gothic Literature group October Reading and in a recent discussion with a friend in Goodreads, I described Diane Setterfield s novel as foreboding Each scene, each sentence is a creation of art, each detail so important, nothing is wasted Each page leads to the shocking final twist, although some of the twists in the middle of the book were a bit predictable, if you paid attention I will not go into any detail of the plot, because it is hard to do so without falling into the trap of spoiling something, but I can say that the lover of books will find a treasure of references The most prominent reference is Jane Eyre and rightfully so , with Wuthering Heights and The Woman in White following closely Why Foreboding houses, problematic narrators, troubled heroines, and all the sins and faults of the past that go on haunting families and places Even Sherlock Holmes gets an honourable mention, since there are some riddles that require answers as there are some characters that desire truth and others that seek absolution.
For some reason, Miss Winter reminds me of a modern Miss Havisham, from the first glimpse of her through the eyes of Margaret Lea, the young amateur biographer Margaret is a very interesting character that stands as equal to the troubled Vida She is sensitive, almost fragile, but strong at the same and so determined to exorcise her own demons The Thirteenth Talehas all the characteristics of a heavy cloud before the storm It is a classic, a haunting tale, its prose elegant and poetic A tale that shows us that the most dangerous ghosts exist not in a world beyond, but fully in our own Tell me the truthThese are the words that a young journalist speaks to Vida Winter in the beginning of this book Vida is an author famous for spinning magical tales In books, and about her life Each time she releases a new story, she grants multiple interviews, in which every journalist asks her the story of her life, and leaves thinking that they, finally, after decades of deceptions, are the one she s told the truth to But she never does Until now Out of the blue, she writes to an amateur biographer named Margaret Lea, telling her that she has chosen her to be her official biographer That she is finally ready to tell the truth What follows is something I find myself at a loss to describe Setterfield s prose is of the magical variety The kind that lifts from the pages to wrap you in its spell and transport you bodily into the book At one point in the story, Setterfield perfectly describes how I felt when I finally set it downThere was a sudden rush in my head, I felt the sick dizziness of the deep sea diver come too fast to the surface Aspects of my room came back into view, one by one My bedspread, the book in my hand, the lamp still shining palely in the daylight that was beginning to creep in through the thin curtains It was morning I had read the night awayI immediately woke up my fianc at 5 a.
m on a Saturday and began to whisper to him about what I had just read Speaking at full volume didn t seem right, sacrilegious even, because I was still caught in this book s thrall and the ghosts of those who haunted the pages seemed to stalk my waking mind I finished it four days ago, and still my fingers twitch toward my beautiful hardcover copy Because The Thirteenth Tale is a book that you need to read at least twice in your life The first time, to learn the truth The second time, to see with eyes wide open what is really taking place within these pages This is easily one of my top 10 books of all time.
Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest All Children Mythologize Their BirthSo Begins The Prologue Of Reclusive Author Vida Winter S Collection Of Stories, Which Are As Famous For The Mystery Of The Missing Thirteenth Tale As They Are For The Delight And Enchantment Of The Twelve That Do Exist The Enigmatic Winter Has Spent Six Decades Creating Various Outlandish Life Histories For Herself All Of Them Inventions That Have Brought Her Fame And Fortune But Have Kept Her Violent And Tragic Past A Secret Now Old And Ailing, She At Last Wants To Tell The Truth About Her Extraordinary Life She Summons Biographer Margaret Lea, A Young Woman For Whom The Secret Of Her Own Birth, Hidden By Those Who Loved Her Most, Remains An Ever Present Pain Struck By A Curious Parallel Between Miss Winter S Story And Her Own, Margaret Takes On The Commission As Vida Disinters The Life She Meant To Bury For Good, Margaret Is Mesmerized It Is A Tale Of Gothic Strangeness Featuring The Angelfield Family, Including The Beautiful And Willful Isabelle, The Feral Twins Adeline And Emmeline, A Ghost, A Governess, A Topiary Garden And A Devastating Fire Margaret Succumbs To The Power Of Vida S Storytelling But Remains Suspicious Of The Author S Sincerity She Demands The Truth From Vida, And Together They Confront The Ghosts That Have Haunted Them While Becoming, Finally, Transformed By The Truth Themselves The Thirteenth Tale Is A Love Letter To Reading, A Book For The Feral Reader In All Of Us, A Return To That Rich Vein Of Storytelling That Our Parents Loved And That We Loved As Children Diane Setterfield Will Keep You Guessing, Make You Wonder, Move You To Tears And Laughter And, In The End, Deposit You Breathless Yet Satisfied Back Upon The Shore Of Your Everyday Life Reread, although I would liked to have listened to the audio Maybe next time Mel www.
comThis book was so good I can t believe I have had this book in my stacks for a few years now The story is so bizarre and sad I loved it When Margaret is called upon by Vida Winter, a famous author, to come and write her biography she has no idea what she is in for with this woman Vida tells the story of her life as a child, but she is not who she seems The twist ending threw me right off the bus I didn t see that one coming at all, but I should have expected something along those lines The way the author weaves this tale is so haunting and it reels you right into the book I can not fathom how children can be brought up this way The story unfolds in a beautiful, well, what should be, a beautiful mansion in the countryside of London They call the place Angelfield This is about a family that goes beyond being dysfunctional I want to see this on film It is an incredibly sad story, I cried But there is a happy ending so that is what matters The story is a beautiful tale even though it is incredibly disturbing at times and so very sad All of the characters and background is very rich in detail and I liked a lot of the characters I would like to readbooks from this author if they are as good as this one This book has been on my tbr for the last three years Then with time, I lost track of my old list to be read and moved on to reading other books which sparked my interest.
Then recently I came across these books which I thought I would red but had never looked at them again, so I decided to start reading my old interests This turned out to be the first one After a long long time, I came across a story that had me captivated until the last word It kept me awake at night, every moment I tried to catch a point so that the mystery be solved but it kept me hooked up until the very end.
This is the story of unwanted attention and lost love.
Of unbearable sorrow and irreplaceable loss.
Of broken hearts and lost souls.
Of damaged minds and clever ideas.
Of beautiful lies and ugly truths.
Of blue eyes and red hair.
Of empty reality and colorful tales.
Of forbidden passionate romances andquick witted, motherless babies.
Of alive and dead twin children.
Of blinding beauties and dysfunctional families.
I specifically loved the way the story is written The writer seems to be truly in sync with the way stories should be told I felt lost to the world and living in the story itself And when I came out of my imagination, I knew the characters are gonna stick with me for a long time You just cannot not hate them, not like them, not get used to them or not think them to be just characters and in the end not let yourself be in love with them at a certain level.
It has those few attraction my mind craves in a book.
story setting in the world of literature, classical novels and their heroines, a gothic atmosphere, time worn buildings and family history, poetic at certain levels, normal days enveloped in mysteries, multiple layers, unexpected twists So basically this book was a treat for me I look forward to readingbooks by the author 5 stars Highly recommended Reviewed by Rabid ReadsSo here s my problem with gothic literature it s so habitually grotesque that it s predictable.
If there s not incest, there s a crazy wife in the attic If there s not a crazy wife in the attic, there s a murderous illegitimate son who s not right in the head Or conjoined twins Or a dying gypsy s curse Or something equally unsettling.
So even if you guess the HEP Big Secret wrong, whatever it actually is isn t going to make a dent B c you ve already imagined the worst B c gothic.
ALSOI don t like it.
If I lived in the time of traveling freak shows, I would not attend Not my bag.
You So why did you read it Me B c didn t realize it was gothic until I d already started it.
You Why didn t you quit Me SCHADENFREUDE thestruggleisrealPlus, the concept is friggin amazing England s most beloved author, who s written 56 novels in 56 years, has zealously guarded her privacy She made her pen name her legal name, and has threatened any would be biographers with lawsuits until they backed down.
Interviewing her has become a kind of rite of passage for journalists, b c she gives a different version of her life story to every, single one of them how cool is that But now she s dying, so she contacts our MC Margaret , an amateur biographer who s grown up in her father s rare bookshop a bibliophile s DREAM , and employs Margaret to write her life story before she leaves this mortal coil.
After that is when it gets weird And gross And creepy And messed the eff up.
Man alive, these people are CRAZY Including Margaret, who has an unhealthy fixation on her dead shortly after birth twin sister Genre preferences aside, there s no denying that this is a beautifully written book 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.
It s also mindbendingly clever The line between mental illness and the supernatural is so thin, so frail, so indecipherable, that even now, days later, I can t stop thinking about it were the ghosts real, or did they only exist in her mind I DON T KNOW EDVARD MUNCH FACE The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is not a book you read then forget It stays with you, taking up brain space, whispering incessantly, like the five notes of a song you can t place, but can t escape It s beautiful and terrible And even if you avoid gothic novels like I do, this oneThis one deserves to be made an exception Highly recommended with trepidation.
The perfect October Autumn read Not since Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has a book so entranced and haunted me I rarely read a book twice but when this came up for a sit in book group I was so excited as I longed to pull the curtains and welcome in the Autumn nights with this wonderful multi layered mystery with its gothic athmosphere that gave me chills down my spineSet in the English Country side Angel field House stands abandoned and forgotten It was once the imposing home of the March family facininating, manipulative Isabell, charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother and the wild untamed twins But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates.
Unnerving and compelling in equal measure, this is one of those books where the pages turn by themselves A story of twists and turns to keep the reader on the edge of their seats No guts or gore in this one just a good old fashioned style mystery that is chilling and haunting Great character that will leave a lasting memory So if like me you enjoy, Abandoned manor homes where secrets and mysteries lure the reader in then this may well work for you.
Even though this was my second time to read this novel and I even seen the TV adaptation, I still enjoed every moment spent with this book and will gladly replace this one on its well earned spot on my book shelf.
I know that most people like to work out to Gnarls Barkley or Metallica or what have you, but I find gym based exercise so exceedingly boring that I require narrative to keep me going Since my motor coordination isn t sufficient enough to allow me to turn the pages of a magazine book AND pump the pedals on an elliptical trainer, sometime last summer I turned to Audible to solve my problems Now, what one requires from printed matter may not at all do for the recorded book, and in my case, it turns out that I can only sustain listening interesting in heavily plot driven novels or extra dorkified pod casts of Wait, Wait Don t Tell Me sigh, Peter Segel Unfortunately, the intersections of a compelling plot and interesting writing are fairly few and far between, plus the narrator has to be a strong reader whose vocal stylings are not reminiscent of one s old junior high school high school drama club classmates This is difficult The literary writer trying on genre often works well John Banville as Benjamin Black is pretty good forgive my snobbery but only because the conventions of a straightforward mystery or sci fi novel can be a little cringe inducing when you actually hear them recited aloud But seriously, I love Science fiction, so no diss.
Anyhoo, The Thirteenth Tale seemed as though it would fit the bill perfectly I mean, premise wise, it s the kind of book editors slaver over personal experience alert esp vis a vis potential audience, in other words, well heeled women possibly of a certain age The whole freaking novel is, in effect, a love letter to Jane Eyre and the other mega hits of the 19th century I m browsing Audible, thinking to myself o.
, talking out loud to myself Dark family secrets Check Wheels within wheels narrative Check Gloomy old English estate Check Both Victorian and presumably post war setting Check Antiquarian bookstore Check Lonely main character whose best friends are books Secondary main character who is a mysterious, isolated writer Check, and Check Unfortunately, I think the voice I was hearing in my head was actually Diane Setterfield s cajoling, coercive, whinging, and not my own Emphasis on coercive my main gripe about this mess of a novel is that while reading I couldn t shake the feeling that the author is constantly trying to impress upon the reader HOODWINK INTO BELIEVING,like it that this piece of moribund trash is actually a work of serious literature.
Might I illustrate this vexing complaint for you Let s talk theme for a moment The central preoccupation of this novel is twinning, or twinness The two main characters are both twins not each other s , whose core identity has been formed by this as Diane Setterfield would have it division of one soul, one egg, one person, into two bodies The concept of the twin is the leitmotif of The Thirteenth Tale Unfortunately, Setterfield s entire take on the idea of the twin can be fairly summarized in the above italicized line Over the course of the book, she uses the same metaphor at least four times to describe separated twins or non twins the amputee She has nothing but the most obvious, predictable, easy, pop psychology thoughts to offer vis a vis twins, but these ideas are all delivered in overwrought, hyperbolic, purple prose Every time the main character, Margaret, catches sight of her reflection which occurs at least ten times she swoons into an overheated, almost laughable disquisition about her twin her reflection who waits for her just on the other side of this mortal coil Every Single Time.
How about books Well, could you imagine that some clever minx would have us believe that books are like the ghosts of dead people I mean, as a committed life long reader I have never encountered nor thought of such a bold notion author s words outlive their bodies and thus reading might be an act of communion with the dead Whoa And also, dead folk might get lonely it s so lonely being dead and the act of reading is akin to an act of friendship and or companionship Fortunately for my feeble and limited imagination, Setterfield ensures that such concepts are inescapable in her novel s groundbreaking treatise on the delights literature has to offer.
Setterfield makes the further mistake of declaring that Margaret s counterpoint, Vida Winter, is the greatest living English author of her day, a point that is crucial to the story s operation Her books have won legions of awards, and generations of journalists and biographers have been rebuffed in their frenzied attempts to discover her life story But Setterfield is not capable of convincing us that Winter is a great one of THE greats talent The narratives that Winter spins for Margaret are pale imitations of Atwood Byatt esque storylines Setterfield s insistence that we believe Winter is a cannonized author damages the credibility of the rest of the novel, especially as it relates to the reader s required suspension of disbelief Of course, the problem is that Setterfield is not nor should she be the greatest living English author, nor even close to it, and she s overreaching in trying to depict Winter as such It s sort of like an unfunny writer trying to write a funny character the author doesn t possess the tools to show us that the character is funny, but can only tell us she is Honestly, I could continue on in my screed for quite a while longer, but I think I should save my energies for positive reviews Let me just mention that this novel s construction, pacing, and plotting are all askew as well, and that its ultimate resolution is a huge disappointment Perhaps my take is soured by the fact that I spent fourteen hours listening to this novel, instead of four or so hours reading it But my feeling is that what could have been a fun homage to the nineteenth century novel became instead a dull trainwreck of a book, derailed by its own inflated sense of literary import If anyone knows of a better, but similar in texture, novel to accompany me on my upcoming travels adventures in exercise, I d love to hear it Thanks 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 magicI don t know if I ve ever loved words so much.
Lots of people told me that this was a book I needed to read, but many of those people also warned me that I might find it slow So I went into The Thirteenth Tale prepared for a subtle plot that moved at a gentle pace well maybe my expectations are to blame but that wasn t what I got Slow Not for me There was not a slow moment in this story because the prose itself was dynamic and consumingly evocative I was intrigued by the mystery, seduced by the characters and caught up in page after page of well written family drama.
Do you like 1 books2 Mysteries3 Family dramasIf you said yes to those, then I really can t see any reason you wouldn t love this book People were right when they said it s a book for people who love books It is A love of literature and words is enthused in every page of this novel I find myself believing that had I not already been a bibliophile, an encounter with this book would be enough to have me drooling over the endless possibilities and magic that lie within stories I must confess that I am almost always a story person first, a character person at a close second and a language word person last This book delivered on all three, but it was the latter that most amazed me Setterfield completely seduces you with words I read passages over and over again because I loved the language and style so muchbooks are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at oncebanal andessential than that When I was a child, books were everything And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilledThe story is about a biographer called Margaret Lea who very suddenly and unexpectedly receives a hand written letter from the popular and critically acclaimed novelist Vida Winters Ms Winters wants Margaret to recount her life story, she wants to finally stop telling fictional stories and reveal the truth of her childhood and all its dark secrets Before accepting, Margaret reads and falls in love with one of the author s books called Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, but she is surprised to find that it contains only twelve stories where is The Thirteenth Tale Margaret finds herself unable to refuse the job And as Vida Winters opens upand , both women are forced to confront the demons of their pasts.
I, for one, was totally sucked into every aspect of the story The writing had hold of me, the characters made me need to knowabout their lives, the mysteries surrounding Winters youth kept me guessing If it s possible, I think this book made me love books even .
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There is no reference to time in the setting of The Thirteenth Tale From the context clues, I d guess that it s set in the 1970s It s a world where people still write letters and where if phone lines go down in a storm, country homes are cut off from contact with civilization Manuscripts are written by hand The feel of the book is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, a novel that itself is woven throughout the plot.
The story begins when Margaret Lea, a little published biographer, is summoned by Vida Winter, famous novelist Ms Winter is finally ready to tell her true life story, rather than another of the many versions she s given of her life over the years As she does so, Margaret and the reader are drawn into the mystery that shrouds Ms Winter Through the stories she tells Margaret as well as the accounts of Margaret s own investigations, we eventually learn the truth both about Ms Winter and the legendary Thirteenth Tale, a story that was left out of an early collection written by Ms Winter There are enough twists to keep the story interesting and unpredictable.
The book jacket describes The Thirteenth Tale by stating, It is a tale of Gothic strangeness, featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden, and a devastating fire In reality, it s that and muchThis book lead me to wonder about identity, love, and the meaning of family I have a feeling these characters will indeed be in the fiber of my clothes for quite some time.