Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I was sent this novel some months ago by my sister in law who thought I would enjoy it. As usual it languished on my bookshelf until we went away for a few days and I thought I should take a book with me to read, should I get the time. Luckily I DID get the time as it was a page turner from the very start!

The story is based on a rather lonely woman (Margaret Lea) who grew up around books and took an interest in writing biographies of deceased writers, who is selected by a very popular author (Vida Winter) to write her biography before she dies. The story of Vida’s life is revealed piece by piece and you share Margaret’s breathless curiosity. But the story still has surprises even at its conclusion.

There are frequent references to classic, favourite books (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White), a Brontesque sense of drama as well as a keen observation of twins and their language. (From a personal point of view, the author has written information on twin language that is virtually unobtainable from professional sources, but is indeed true as I have found from being the mother of twins!)

The story is heavily female oriented as the male figures only play minor roles, and there are strong relationship themes. The writing is rich and inviting and for anyone who loves books and reading, they will associate with part of it and will find it quite riveting!

Amazingly, this is the first novel of author Diane Setterfield – I look forward to the other treasures she will write if this story is any indication of her ability.

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