The Thirteenth Tale
Length Of Time In Possession : 1 month
In The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield mousy bookshop assistant Margaret Lea works for her father and writes the occasional biography. She attracts the attention of renowned writer Vida Winter who summons her north to act as her biographer.
Vida Winter is a mysterious figure in the literary world, a writer of many massively popular novels she is also known for giving multiple fictional accounts of her own past in every interview she has ever given. Now dying, she has decided to tell the truth about her unusual past.
I really, really liked the Thirteenth Tale, the story of Vida's ancestry and childhood had enough intrigue and mystery to keep me engrossed throughout and I read it in two sittings.
I really loved its remarks about reading, readers, and the importance of books many of which I identified with.
Yet, I read this book for my book club, and it came in for heavy criticism from many of my fellow readers, and I had to concede that many of these criticisms were unfortunately legitimate.
The central conceit itself lacks much real world plausibility. It is unlikely that a life could be that concealed.
There is perhaps a too heavy push to draw comparison with and to emulate the classic novels, particularly Jane Eyre and on occasion this feels forced.
The sub plot around the character Aurelius is quite stuff and nonsense really, particularly Margaret's apparent luck in happening to encounter him as well as his back story.
One of the men in book club called it 'a girls book' - and I think I have to ruefully accept there may be truth to that.
My personal feeling about the book however is that it is 'a ripping good yarn' and I've already recommended it to two people. If you like 19th Century novels, it is likely you'll enjoy the Thirteenth Tale, despite its flaws I definitely did and as a reading experience I would probably still give it top marks.
Verdict : 10/10
Destination : ebook storage