December 18, 2006
"The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale, a first novel by Diane Setterfield, has been on booksellers’ recommended lists since its debut, and I think for good reason. Margaret Lea, a young woman who works in her father’s London bookshop, is contacted by famous, elderly novelist Vida Winter to write her biography. Winter is notorious for fabricating tales about her life, so Margaret is leery about taking on the project, especially since she has only written one obscure biographical article on a couple of brothers. The stories that unfold are complicated tales of twins, lies, ghosts, and family secrets – both Vida’s and Margaret’s. For book lovers, the story contains literary references, antique books, and bookstore scenes. It has the classic story ambiance of old rotting houses, dark/dreary weather, and mad relatives. One of my favorite passages in the book is:
"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."
This is a tale that I suspect will cling to me for a while.
Posted by jnardine at December 18, 2006 09:09 AM