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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel Paperback – October 9, 2007
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"Eerie and fascinating." (USA Today)
"Pitch-perfect." (Entertainment Weekly)
"A book that you wake in the middle of the night craving to get back to . . . . Timeless, charming, a pure pleasure to read . . . . The Thirteeth Tale is a book to savor a dozen times." (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
"A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled." (Booklist)
"The shared literary landscape that The Thirteenth Tale re-creates with lush precision takes us back to a time when reading could seem more compelling than life." (The Columbus Dispatch)
"A spellbinding story that grabs the reader from the opening pages." (Toronto Sun)
"Setterfield proves a mistress of the craft of storytelling, and her musings about the pleasures of reading are most beguiling." (The Guardian)
"Readers will feel the magnetic pull of this paean to words, books and the magical power of story." (People)
"This will without a doubt be one of the best books published this year." (Daily American)
"Readers will be mesmerized by this story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre. The author . . . . leaves no strand untucked at the surprising and satisfying conclusion." (Booklist)
About the Author
Diane Setterfield is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale, and a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature, particularly the works of Andre Gide. She lives in Oxford, England.
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If there's not incest, there's a crazy wife in the attic. If there's not a crazy wife in the attic, there's a murderous illegitimate son who's not right in the head. Or conjoined twins. Or a dying gypsy's curse. Or something equally unsettling.
So even if you guess the HEP Big Secret wrong, whatever it actually is isn't going to make a dent. B/c you've already imaged the worst. B/c gothic.
ALSO . . . I don't like it.
If I lived in the time of traveling freak shows, I would not attend. Not my bag.
You: So why did you read it?
Me: B/c didn't realize it was gothic until I'd already started it.
You: Why didn't you quit?
Me: SCHADENFREUDE . #thestruggleisreal
Plus, the concept is friggin amazing: England's most beloved author, who's written 56 novels in 56 years, has zealously guarded her privacy. She made her pen name her legal name, and has threatened any would-be biographers with lawsuits until they backed down.
Interviewing her has become a kind of rite of passage for journalists, b/c she gives a different version of her life story to every, single one of them. <------how cool is that?
But now she's dying, so she contacts our MC (Margaret), an amateur biographer who's grown up in her father's rare bookshop (a bibliophile's DREAM), and employs Margaret to write her life story before she leaves this mortal coil.
After that is when it gets weird. And gross. And creepy. And messed-the-eff-up.
Man alive, these people are CRAZY.
Including Margaret, who has an unhealthy fixation on her dead-shortly-after-birth twin sister.
Genre preferences aside, there's no denying that this is a beautifully written book:
There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
It's also mindbendingly clever.
The line between mental illness and the supernatural is so thin, so frail, so indecipherable, that even now, days later, I can't stop thinking about it--were the ghosts real, or did they only exist in her mind?
I. DON'T. KNOW. *EDVARD MUNCH FACE*
THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield is not a book you read then forget. It stays with you, taking up brain space, whispering incessantly, like the five notes of a song you can't place, but can't escape. It's beautiful and terrible. And even if you avoid gothic novels like I do, this one . . . This one deserves to be made an exception. Highly recommended (with trepidation).
Diane Setterfield has done an amazing job of weaving several tales of love, heartache, loneliness and dedication together in a way I have never seen before. I am now a fan of hers and will be looking for more like this one.
This author, Diane Setterfield, has written in a style that will not only grab your attention, it will keep you reading until you cannot read any longer - as soon as I got up in the morning, I had to continue.
I smiled, held my breath, became puzzled, thought I'd figured out where the story was heading, and received a shock when the curveball came - over and over again.
Enjoy! I will definitely recommend to each person who asks me if I have read anything good lately!