The Thirteenth Tale

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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.”


Sandy Nawrot said...

It was totally gothic, and reminded me A LOT of Kate Morton. I'm really unsure about reading her newest. I got all excited but then everyone said that it didn't come close to their expectations! Bah! How crazy is it that I am scared to read it and be disappointed?

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. I was not so taken with B&B, though the writing was still top notch.One of these days I'm must read Rebecca! This is just one more reason why.

Jeanne said...

I liked some of this book, but the plethora of references to reading put me off a little bit. I felt like I was being manipulated, kind of like the meme that says "she was a girl who liked to read and drink tea. Unlike all the other girls."

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - Me too! I saw all the mediocre reviews and I bumped it down my list and just reread this one.

52booksorbust - If you loved this one I bet you'd love Rebecca too. It's just fantastic!

Jeanne - It was definitely written by someone who loved reading. Those references didn't bother me, but I know what you mean.

Heather said...

And NOW I want to reread this one. I couldn't get into B&B. *sigh*

I swear I'm going to make a list of books I want to reread next year. This would definitely go on it.

Arenel said...

Sounds really nice! I love books about books! Especially if there's a mystery too!

Kailana said...

One of these days I really need to reread this. I keep meaning to and then it never happens. I have a copy of B&B I also haven't got around to.

JoAnn said...

I loved this one, too, but have decided to take a pass on her latest, at least for now. Love the middle cover… haven't seen that one before!

Jillian said...

Such a wonderful book, I agree. Everytime I read it, I get lost. I wish the author would write another book.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Heather - I've learned that re-reading has become a real treat for me. I love it!

Ekaterina Egorova - It's a good one!

Kailana - I've started letting myself re-reading one book a month and I really love it!

JoAnn - I hadn't seen that cover before either. I have the one on the left.

Jillian - She did! It just came out, but it's been getting very mixed reviews.

Unknown said...

Oh I had forgotten about the Rebecca lovers that would like it too--I just had a student finish Rebecca on my recommendation and LOVED it! So I think I will hand this one for her to read next :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kimberly Hawks - It's a great pairing. It made me want to re-read Rebecca!