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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Thirteenth Tale

     This novel, written by Diane Setterfield, is a gothic-style narrative set in England during an undisclosed point in time. It is the story of Margaret Lea, a young woman who runs a rare book store with her father and is an amateur literary biographer. It also is the story of Vida Winter, a famous and reclusive writer who has hidden her past from the world for over sixty years. Now that Vida is dying, she has decided to reveal the truth about her life to Margaret, who will write it as biography; but the fantastic tale she shares is so astounding that Margaret wonders if it is another work of fiction. We learn about the Angelfields, a wealthy upper-class family whose members are totally dysfunctional. There are hints of incest, scandal, violence, murder and more. Is Vida a member of this family? Which feral twin sister could she be? And Margaret has secrets of her own. Her own twin sister died at birth, a secret kept from her until she accidentally discovered it during her childhood, and has affected the bond between her and her mother.

     Lush physical descriptions and an air of the unknown add to the atmosphere; multi-dimensional character descriptions draw the reader in. Settle down to read this book and watch the pages fly by.

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