Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

13 th Title: The Thirteenth Tale

Author: Diane Setterfield

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9803-2

Publisher: Washington Square Press

How I Read it: Trade Paperback from my own bookshelf


Rating: 5 Cups


Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins, Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

(from the back of the book)

My Thoughts:

I am not going tell too much about this novel because I want potential readers to discover the twists, turns, and truths of this brilliant book all on their own. However, I will say that if you have not read this book, you need to.

Why did I purchase this book?

Everywhere I went I continuously heard this book being compared to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and seeing how I absolutely loved both of those books I knew that I had give The Thirteenth Tale a read. When I found this novel in a little bookstore whilst travelling I just had to buy it. (I was a bit put off at first seeing how the book smelled like smoke because the store had caught on fire but the smoky smell seemed to go hand in hand with the novel).

Did it compare to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights?

Throughout the novel Jane Eyre is used as a leitmotif and you can see several comparisons (i.e. the fire, the governess) but the author is quick to point out when comparing the relationship of the reclusive master of the house, Charlie and the newly appointed governess, Hester to that of Rochester and Jane Eyre that they were not similar and were not going to be. The following quote sums up the relationship:

"Charlie was less directly influenced. He kept out of her way and that suited both of them. She had no desire to do anything but her job, and her job was us. Our minds, our bodies, and our souls, yes, but our guardian was outside her jurisdiction, and so she left him alone. She was no Jane Eyre and he was no Mr Rochester."

Several aspects of the book did indeed invoke the feeling of Wuthering Heights and for me I felt that the novel was more in line with its themes rather than the themes Jane Eyre, especially the isolation of Angelfield family, the actions of Charlie and Isabelle, some of the events that take place.

The Thirteenth Tale does invoke the gothic feel that the Bronte’s were known for and Diane Setterfield does it beautifully.

Overall, I was enthralled by this novel and could not put it down. The family secrets and the mysteries that unraveled had me continually reading until the wee hours of the morn.

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