The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield was somewhat of a surprise to me. I had tried to read this book a while back but just couldn't get into it, so last week I decided to check it out as an audio book at my library and I was in to it from the first few words. Diane Setterfields writing seemed to me to come from a different time era, I was wrapped up in the words and her writing style and felt as if I was reading a novel by Jane Austen or one of the Brontë sisters. All I have to say is that Diane Setterfield must be an extreme book enthusiast to have written such a lovely story about books and storytelling.
When the story opens we meet our main character Margaret Lea. She is a plain, mousey, shadow of a woman that works in a rare books book shop and occasionally writes biographies on random dead people. One day she gets a letter asking her to write the biography of the most popular modern novelist in existence Ms. Vida Winter. Vida has been avoiding her past for decades and she is now old and ailing and wants the truth to be told about her life. What Margaret gets is a story so good it just might be better than one of Vida Winter's bestsellers. Between old houses, mental illnesses, twins, ghosts, fires, governesses, and jealousy (all the making of a great Gothic Novel), Margaret sets out to make sure that Vida is telling her the truth , and along the way she comes to grips with her own painful life story.
I would probably only recommend this book to someone who enjoys the classics. The Thirteenth Tale was written to be appreciated in another time and I don't think that someone who only likes modern novels will really connect with this story. While I enjoyed it immensely I just don't think it would be for everyone. I feel like this is so unfortunate because I think this is one of the finest written pieces that I have read in a long time.
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
If you liked this book then read: The Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory