Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale

Diane Setterfield's Thirteenth Tale is the story of a renowned author, Vida Winter, whose aging body has led her to reveal the truth about her violent and tragic past.  Young Margaret Lee is summoned to her mansion and as she learns of the gothic tale of two beautiful twins, Margaret and Vida both face the truth and the ghosts of their past. 
Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother, but the rest of the time there was none. This story is about one of those other times." 
The book, which became a New York Times No. 1 best-seller, has garnered talk of a possible film contract. The story reflects the Gothic writing tradition, with an unmistakable similitude to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. 

Getting lost in the telling, I was perpetually fixated by the way she melds the words, stringing them slowly together like pearls on a necklace. Setterfield gives the reader a discomforting fly-on-the-wall point of observation of an old mansion that houses a family queer and eccentric, violent even. A remote setting, supernatural occurrences, gothic elements, a mysterious turn of events, and every reason to turn back or put down the book, but an unnerving inability to do so.

Setterfield is a British author who studied French Literature at The University of Bristol, with a PhD on autobiographical structures in the fiction of Andre Gide. In the late 1990's, she left academia to write.

© 2012 by Rachel Lowry. All rights reserved. {photo via}

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