Everyone is posting about Setterfield’s new book right now and it got me thinking about her first novel. I read and loved the book in 2007 and decided that the R.I.P. Challenge was the perfect excuse to reread it.
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
A reclusive and prolific author, Vida Winter, is notorious for fictionalizing her past. Then she contacts an amateur biographer and bookseller, Margaret, requesting the chance to tell the real story of her life. This gothic mystery has all the ingredients to be a great book and it has the writing to back it up.
The reason this book is so intoxicating to readers is because it celebrates reading and weaves a love of books into every page. There are references to specific books and the joy of reading that any bibliophile can relate to. The author’s love of Wuthering Heights, Turn of the Screw, Jane Eyre and others is clear in every line which immediately puts the readers who love those books on her side.
On top of that there’s a delightfully gothic mystery in the style of Daphne du Maurier and Wilkie Collins. The combination of elements reminds me of another favorite of mine, The Shadow of the Wind. There’s no need to delve far into the plot, it’s too much fun to discover that world on your own. There’s a creepy English house, twin girls named Adeline and Emmeline, and a fire.
BOTTOM LINE: A book lover’s dream. If Rebecca, The Woman in White, or Kate Morton’s novels make you swoon then this one should be a must for you.
“I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy
“What better way to get to know someone than through her choice and treatment of books?”
“All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.”