The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Every once in awhile I find a book that puts me into a quandary.  Do I keep reading, discovering what’s around the next corner (or page as the case may be), or do I ration it out, chapter by chapter, prolonging the enjoyment?  This book caused me just such a dilemma.  Margaret Lea,  an unassuming,  intellectual young woman, receives a letter from the reclusive and mysterious author Vida Winters, and is summoned to her remote estate.  It seems Miss Winters is finally ready to tell her life story, and she has chosen Margaret be her biographer.  Little by little, the story is revealed with a cast of characters reminiscent of a Bronte novel and, in fact, there are many references to Jane Eyre within The Thirteenth Tale.  Characters include the master of the house, Charlie, driven mad with incestuous passion for his sister, the impetuous and free spirited Isabelle, the feral twins Emmeline and Adeline, bookish Margaret who has her own secrets, eccentric Miss Winters, and an abandoned baby boy, Aurelius.  The crumbling house itself, Angelfield, is also a major character in the book, along with its ghosts.  The story reminded me of a C. S. Lewis quote, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”  Highly recommended.

My Rating:   


One thought on “The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

  1. I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale, it was an enchanting story, but I’m afraid it did go on a bit too long for my tastes. I really loved the way Ms. Setterfield handled Margaret and her twin, it reminded me of Andrew Pyper’s novel, The Lost Girls, where you were never really sure if the haunting was real or imagined (and I’m not telling here!). I loved Vida Winter and the way her tale seduced Margaret, but the end was almost anti-climatic for me. There are many others who probably won’t feel the same, however, somewhere three-quarters of the way through, the pacing seemed to slow to a drag prior to picking up again near the end.

    It was not enough to ruin the tale, though! It was a magical book to while away a winter’s eve and Margaret and Vida remained in my thoughts long after I turned the last page.

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