Dottie's Reviews > The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
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May 07, 14


I did not like this book. The story line was interesting, but could have been done better in a shorter novel. I actually bought the book and threw it away after reading about the devilish Charlie and his incestuous, evil, violent nature. But it was compared to Jane Eyre, my favorite novel, and some people I admire said it was a good book, and I read several good reviews of it. So I bought a used copy of the books on tape and was wishing I was reading it so I could skim it. On the 11th disk (11 out of 14) it got interesting and finally to the 13th tale. The book should have started there. The heroine Margaret, who is telling the story, pretty much summarizes what has happened and starts pulling all these random threads together.

The author took way too long to describe each dark and dreary dust particle. Almost every noun had a dozen adjectives; verbs had dozens of adverbs. She was too extravagant with alliteration, metaphors, similes, personification, assonance. I love poetic devices;I think that is what makes good writing. But Setterfield's ever use made the flow of the story muddy, and sluggish.

The last four disks were interesting, and the ending, while gut wrenching and sad, was worth a tale, and that earned it possibly two stars. I agree with another review I read that I was never convinced that Vida Winters was a great and acclaimed author. And it was so heavily laded with the twin identity, and then she turns out not to be a twin?

P.S. I resented the book being compared to Jane Eyre. In keeping with the Gothic style, if she wanted to compare it to a Bronte work, it should have been compared to Wuthering Heights. Because of its demonic characters, it fits right with Heathcliff. Charlotte Bronte did not approve of her sister Emily's creation of Heathcliff. She said, "Whether it is right or advisable to create things like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is." I don't think she would have liked this book either.
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