Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

I loved "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield, which I read for my book group. I probably shouldn't be surprised that I liked it, because I am the person who suggested it to the group. It is a Gothic tale about a strange, mysterious family. It involves a manor house, twins, faithful servants, abandoned children, old book dealers, fires, and other wonderful, spooky things.
Personally, all you have to do is set a story in a dark, mysterious house on a moor and I'm there. "The Moonstone", "The Woman in White", "Jane Eyre", anything by Daphne du Maurier ("Rebecca") or Phyllis A. Whitney - it's all good. But everyone else in the book club who read it loved it too, so I can safely recommend it to almost everyone. It is a well-written story that pulls you in.
It starts with a young woman who has written some rather obscure literary biographies. She receives a letter from a old woman who is one of the world's most popular authors. The author says that she has been lying about her past for years in interviews, but she is ready to tell the truth at last. She is willing to have only one person write her authorized biography.
Off goes the young woman to the mysterious manor house in the middle of the moor. There is a cryptic servant, protective of her mistress. There is the author herself, elderly and ill, but seemingly ready to tell her true life story. But is it really the truth? How does she convince the young woman to stay and hear her story?
I refuse to give any more of the plot away. Read the book yourself! I must admit the final ending was a tiny bit disappointing, but I think this is mostly because the journey was so enjoyable that it would be hard to end it in a way that would truly be satisfying and make the reader happy to come to the end.
We discussed this book in book club, and then we talked about a lot of other things. I can't tell you about that, because what happens in book club, stays in book club. If I told you, I'd have to kill you, etc. etc. Let's just say it was a lively discussion!

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