I picked this book up a few years ago and read so far into it then became distracted and left the book on the shelf for some time. I'm glad that it waI picked this book up a few years ago and read so far into it then became distracted and left the book on the shelf for some time. I'm glad that it was recommended that I pick it up again. Such a lovely story, so many emotions in one book! Love, joy, anger, confusion, pain and back to joy again.
We meet Henry, a Chinese boy in Seattle. He falls in love with a girl, Keiko. This is out of the question for several reasons not the least of which her being Japanese and Pearl Harbour is not a distant memory. Henry and Keiko are friends, no matter what his family and the government say. So when the government takes the Japanese people and ships them inland to "interment camps", they continue their friendship, for a time anyway.
Fast forward forty years, Henry is now a widower and his son is at university. Life has been kind to him for the most part, but its also given him pain. His wife has died of cancer and the past has come back to haunt him. An old hotel is being refurbished, the contractors have found a stash of items dating back to those terrible days of 1944 when America was at war with Japan, a time when innocent families put their precious belongings in the basement to save them from looters. Henry recognizes a parasol from his long lost Keiko.
And thus the story begins. Mr Ford writes a wonderful story in which he goes between Henry's past in 1944 and his present in 1986. A part of American history that most people either don't know or don't mention, the interment camps. People, second generation American citizens, were packed up and shipped off to camps around the country, treated as little more then cattle. There were some at the time that viewed them as mistreated human beings, convicted without a court hearing, without justice. Some went home again, most relocated to other areas, never returning to their homes again and starting over.
I couldn't put my book down and had to finish last night, in spite of the raging head ache. I was left with a feeling of having completed a wonderful tale of more then joy and pain, bit one of hope... always hope. ...more
How could this book have been sitting, languishing on my shelves for so many years? How had I managed to deprive myself of such a story for so long? IHow could this book have been sitting, languishing on my shelves for so many years? How had I managed to deprive myself of such a story for so long? Its inexcusable, simple as that.
Upon suggestion from a fellow book-aholic on GoodReads, I picked up The Thirteenth Tale. I was not disappointed. We follow a young woman by the name of Margaret Lea, who is contacted by the author Vida Winter to write her biography. Margaret doesn't read books written by authors still among the living when there are so many others to read by authors who will never write again. However, she is intrigued by Ms. Winter and accepts the commission to "tell the truth".
The story unfolds of strange relationships, feral twins, a governess, a ghost, a garden and fire that destroyed it all. All too often, I found myself, or rather lost myself, in this telling of gothic strangeness and I loved it. I would come up from this story only to eat or drink and that begrudgingly. I stayed up late last night reading, it was well after two in the morning before I turned the last page and shut out the light. I've not done that in some time and it was a joy. Our protagonist, Margaret, left no stone unturned and even told us what happened to all the side characters in this tale, something that most authors don't bother to do. I had to find out what happened to everyone.
The Thirteenth Tale pulls you with a strange magnetic force into the pages of the story and doesn't let you go. You find yourself thinking about the characters long after you've had to set the book down and go back to work. You find yourself wondering what is going to happen next. Will Margaret finish the commission before time runs out? Will we ever know what really happened in that house so long ago? Will Margaret find the peace she is looking for? Questions such as these haunt you until you reach the last page and smile at the complete story, happy that everything worked out in the end even if it wasn't how you thought. In a rare fashion, I actually cried when this novel reached its conclusion. I was sad that the story was over.
There are books that we find a few times in our lives, if we are very fortunate, that have a power over us, that mystical power of a story. It fills us, guides us down it's own path and when we reach the end of that journey, we are left feeling a sense of both joy at completion and sadness that these characters we have met will go on without us. You see, their story is over for now and ours must continue. We have to say good-bye and good-byes are rarely kind and happy affairs in their entirety, but a cloud of sadness always lingers. Always, and I wouldn't change it for anything. ...more