SillySuzy's Reviews > The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
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's review
Apr 19, 2009

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bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in April, 2009

This novel starts out wonderfully, set as it is in an antiquarian bookshop and with all these musings about the love of reading (esp. of classic novels) and spending time in libraries. The story is highly atmospheric with this mysterious, but very successful author, Vida Winter, who has never told her real life's story and who is living in this beautiful, remote mansion. You are sucked into the story very early on, but as the tale progresses, the plot gets very thick, quite complicated and highly implausible. IMHO it is very unlikely for someone with Vida's background (hardly any education at all) to become such a successful author in later life. And a governess writing articles in scientific journals? The story becomes more and more contrived towards the end, which is a pity as it started out so promising. None of the main characters is really sympathetic except maybe Margaret and her father, but they do not really come to life. It is not clear when this novel is set. It has an old feel to it, but there are telephones and cars, yet no mobile phones or computers. As I understand it, the author wanted to write a novel like Jane Eyre or The Woman in White, but as far as I am concerned she didnot succeed. IMO Sara Waters (Fingersmith) and Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White) did a much better job. Yet, there are images in this book that remain with you long after you closed it.

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