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Showing posts from September, 2007

Book of the Year (so far!): The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is a very clever and moving literary mystery which those who enjoy books such as Jane Eyre will love. I admit to thinking that it was contrived to appeal to a certain type of reader at first but the writing was so good and I became so involved in the mystery that I continued reading and I was glad that I did!

The heroine, Margaret Lea, a solitary biographer haunted by the loss of her twin sister, receives a letter from a famous writer, Vida Winter, asking her to write her biography. Margaret agrees on condition that Ms Winter, who has continually made up stories about her past, finally tells the truth.

When she arrives at Ms Winter's, Margaret becomes involved in the mystery of her past. The tale includes haunted houses, feral twins, mad adults and other odd characters. It is almost, but not quite, too over the top, because Setterfield keeps a tight control over it.

In the great tradition of all gothic mysteries, our heroine has to solve it. In doing so she also comes to terms…

The Immortal Chanel: Coco The Life and Times of Gabrielle Chanel by Frances Kennett

It was Christmas Eve in Paris. The French novelist, Michael Deon, was dressing to go to dinner with his girlfriend one night when the famous dress-designer, Chanel, telephoned him and invited him to dine at the Hotel Ritz. The dining room was full so Chanel and Deon had supper in her room. Deon despaired of being able to join his girlfriend and stayed until past midnight when he returned alone to his hotel 'not in the least put out'. This was a few nights before Chanel died. Until her death she still retained great enchantment and charm.

Deon '..believes that none of her biographers have done justice to her extraordinary magnetism, her magical fairy-tale like quality, that literally held people captive.' Ms Kennett may be an exception. This is a very charming book which relates Chanel's story in a sympathetic, interesting and unusually philosophical way which suits the great designer's life. The lovely paintings and illustrations by Natacha Ledwidge add to the …