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Tuesday, September 18, 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 with her own sadness and begins to find her own place in the world.

This is a memorable novel which moved me to tears and had much wisdom in it.

2 comments:

Andi said...

I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. I sort of brushed it off because of all the overwhelming hype that's surrounded it in book discuss groups and whatnot, but then I listened to a podcast of an interview with Diane Setterfield. Wow. She's wonderfully interesting, and they played a bit from the audiobook that really captured my interest. I can't wait to read it now!

Viola said...

Hi Andi,
Thank you for your comment. I loved this book so it will be interesting to see what you think of it.
I'd like to listen to the podcast!
Best Regards,
Viola