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The Thirteenth Tale
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Previous BOMs - Authors; Q - T > The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield - Start Date August 2, 2014 (August Anything Goes BOM)

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This thread is to discuss The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. Be prepared for spoilers.


Synopsis:

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.

Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.

As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story.

Both women will have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets... and the ghosts that haunt them still


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Date Chapters Pages PPQ&C*

August 2nd The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter 1 - 56
Lisarenee

August 3rd And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley 57 - 110
Lisarenee

August 4th Dicken's Study - The Box of Lives 111 - 161
Amanda

August 5th The Eye In The View - Angelfield Again 162 - 221
August 6th Mrs. Love Turns A Heel - Fossilized Tears 222 - 277
August 7th Underwater Cryptography - Demolishing The Past 278 - 335
August 8th Hestor's Diary II - End 336 - 404

*Person Posting Questions and Comments




Nayana (nynaa03) | 6 comments Request placed :)


message 4: by Emily (new)

Emily | 118 comments I'm going to pick up my copy from the library today!


Sandra Hofmann (zebrainviolett) | 1 comments I have my copy already and am looking forward to reading it. My first time ever participating in a group read here, so I'm excited! :D


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Reading schedule:
  
Date Chapters Pages PPQ&C*

August 2nd The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter 1 - 56
August 3rd And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley 57 - 110
August 4th Dicken's Study - The Box of Lives 111 - 161
August 5th The Eye In The View - Angelfield Again 162 - 221
August 6th Mrs. Love Turns A Heel - Fossilized Tears 222 - 277
August 7th Underwater Cryptography - Demolishing The Past 278 - 335
August 8th Hestor's Diary II - End 336 - 404

*Person Posting Questions and Comments




Kristin Parker | 2 comments I read this book a few years ago, and it remains one of my favorites! It's the kind of story that takes your mind back to reminisce every now and then.


Sarah | 3273 comments Gonna join and get started since it has been on my bookshelf for quite some time.


message 9: by Calle (new)

Calle | 17 comments Planning on starting when I get home from work....


Nayana (nynaa03) | 6 comments Day 1-completed 78 pages.. About to start day 2 reading. Hoping to complete at least 100 more pages.


message 11: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Question and Comments for August 2nd
The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter

1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?



message 12: by Sarah (last edited Aug 02, 2014 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments I love books about books - It is kind of funny that The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry was last month. So Margaret mentions The Woman in White, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre as some of her favorites. Which I love because I just bought The Woman in White on Amazon for the kindle earlier today and plan to read it next. It was chosen for a classic read this month for a FB reading group I am a part of. I read the other two last year and the year before. I have only just learned about The Woman in White - it was one of the first mysteries written I believe.


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You know, Sarah, I almost mentioned the similarities of this book to last month's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Both have book stores and books.

~Lisarenee


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Nayana wrote: "Day 1-completed 78 pages.. About to start day 2 reading. Hoping to complete at least 100 more pages."

Are you liking it so far? I'm guessing by the way your reading your way through that you are?


message 15: by Sandra (last edited Aug 03, 2014 09:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sandra Hofmann (zebrainviolett) | 1 comments 1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)

So far, I like the writing style a lot! She sometimes seems to get lost in descriptions, but it's beautiful. Some lines from the book will definitely go into my collection-of-beautiful-quotes-notebook. However, it's the first book I'm reading with a dictionary next to me in a long while. English is not my native language, but usually I have no trouble reading books or watching movies without ever having to look a word up. If a word is new to me, I'm usually good at guessing the meaning from context. Setterfield's style seems to be very .. antique. There are lots of words I have never heard before, and though I could guess them from context just fine, I feel like I have to look all of them up to do her novel justice!


2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol

Not really. Maybe forgetting to get off a bus because I'm reading, but that's not really dangerous.


3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?

If I was a biographer: Sure! I'm not sure yet if Vida is going to tell the truth, but I'd meet her because writing a biography about her would be a challenge. My intial impression.. not sure. In her letter, she sounded nice enough. During the conversation in the library, I first thought that she was creepy, but had to notice that I started to like her over the course of the conversation.


4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?

Yes, I would tell my child if they had a dead sibling. If it wasn't me, I'm sure someone else would do it, or they would accidently find out (like Margaret did). And if I was the one discovering it, I guess I'd ask my parents about it. I'd want to know why my twin died.


5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?

It's a weird hobby, but Maraget isn't an ordinary person, so I think it fits her well. I'm not sure how I feel about reading someone's diary. On the one hand, diaries are a very personal matter and I might feel like invading a stranger's life - especially if the person is dead and can't do anything about it. On the other hand, I think diaries can be an interesting read to get an image of past centuries, historic events, etc.


6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?

Not sure about the symbolism yet. Maybe the 13th tale is the truth about Vida Winter that she hasn't told yet?


message 16: by Imke (new) - rated it 4 stars

Imke (immie75) | 1642 comments Question and Comments for August 2nd
The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter


1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)
I like this writing style, it is narrative. I almost immediately fell into the story and it is a fast read. I think there are dark things ahead and it’s not going to be sunshine and roses.

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. Lol
Often, when I’m reading a book that is difficult to put down I tend to read while walking, it always goes ok and I only read while walking on routes I’m familiar with and I know where the dangers are.

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?
I think I would be. I’m not sure I like Vida, the impression I got from the letter wasn’t a good one. She is intriguing and I would be curious about all the stories she told journalists. I think she will tell the truth, but with a lot of extra’s.

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?
I think I would be shocked, or I might have the same reaction Margaret had with the feeling that you are missing something. I would tell if the child was old enough, I was surprised that Margaret hadn’t found out sooner and it seems from the story she was telling that her parents have never told her and that she has kept finding out about her twin from her parents. I think the twin didn’t live very long.

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement,“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?
Yes I would. Through diaries you can get a sense of what people’s lives were like.

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12.
I don’t know, it’s strange.


Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 159 comments Question and Comments for August 2nd
The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter

1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)


So far, I like it. It has slight quaint, though dark undertones.

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol

I walked into a lamppost once. But since that time, I've developed a sense of my surroundings. I can usually read while walking, and not run the risk of bumping into people or cars. ^^;

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?

I'd be intrigued, sure... but since I'm paranoid, first I'd be everywhere on the 'net, trying to see if it was some kind of hoax. XD
Not sure about Vida telling her true story. I think she might do that, but using truth hidden within half-lies, that kind of thing.

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?

I don't know, in both cases. I'd probably tell my child that s/he had had a twin who died at birth, because I'd see no point to hiding it (it'd be like denying that my own child once existed, even though s/he died quickly). I should've had an elder brother, who was unfortunately stillborn, and my parents never hid it from me.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how I'd react to such a discovery later. That thing with my brother, it's sad, but... I never knew him, he was never a part of my life as a brother, he's always been only a name on a birth certificate, so I can't cry for him either or feel tremendously troubled. Or maybe I'm just terribly callous.
(Although, that's knowing that had he lived, I wouldn't have been born, because my parents wouldn't have wanted another child so soon after him. Yeah, basically I only exist because he died. Now her's a book that make you think, huh?)

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?

I'd probably enjoy reading such a text, yes. Some biographies can be so dry... Seeing one written in a different way must be quite refreshing.

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?

Somehow it makes me think that the 13th tale exists somewhere, that it was meant to be told, but in another way. Maybe it's contained in the other 12, like some kind of puzzle game for the reader?


message 18: by Emily (new)

Emily | 118 comments 1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)

It definitely seems like it is going to be a dark tale, but I didn't notice the word corpse used a lot. I'll have to look for that from now on. The writing really did captured me. It's very descriptive which is something that I can really appreciate in moderation.

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol

For some reason I never get as into my stories that I am not fully aware of what's going around me, but I had a teacher that said something caught on fire while she was reading and didn't notice until her friend was yelling at her.

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?

I mean this makes me think of JK Rowling, and coincidentally I've never read any of her books, but yes I definitely do think I would try to meet her, but not by myself. She is kind of rude, and I'm sorry but I like being polite. You could never force me to be rude.

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?

I feel that my parents are truthful enough that I wouldn't have had to find out on my own they would have told me, and I also would have told my child. Parent's like to hide death from their kids, but it is something that happens and they need to understand at some point.

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?

I do think this is an important thing to have, but I would never get into this hobby. I would love to read someone's diary from the past, and I do feel like when I read someone's book that they kind of live on for a while longer.

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?

I think it's clever. I always said that if I wrote a book that was really big that I would make the publisher skip the page 666 to be funny.


message 19: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Emi said, "I think it's clever. I always said that if I wrote a book that was really big that I would make the publisher skip the page 666 to be funny."

Makes it more mysterious. FYI, there are 13 CDs for this one too. Thankfully the one I borrowed from the library held all 13 discs. I don't think the library would be to keen on it just having 12 especially when I return it.


message 20: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Emi said, "I had a teacher that said something caught on fire while she was reading and didn't notice until her friend was yelling at her."

That's pretty bad. I never knew how dangerous books could be. If you think about, book burning has been around for ages, and I kind of like that statement. It is true books with certain knowledge can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Likewise, they can set a person free.


message 21: by Sarah (last edited Aug 03, 2014 09:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments I am getting behind schedule due to work but I will have Tuesday and Wednesday off to read.

Wanted to share a quote I loved - page 29 - "There is one thing on which we are agreed: There are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere."


message 22: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Yzabel said, "I walked into a lamppost once. But since that time, I've developed a sense of my surroundings. I can usually read while walking, and not run the risk of bumping into people or cars. ^^;"

lol :)


message 23: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Imke said, "I was surprised that Margaret hadn’t found out sooner and it seems from the story she was telling that her parents have never told her and that she has kept finding out about her twin from her parents. I think the twin didn’t live very long."

I agree and thought the same things.


message 24: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Sandra said, "So far, I like the writing style a lot! She sometimes seems to get lost in descriptions, but it's beautiful. Some lines from the book will definitely go into my collection-of-beautiful-quotes-notebook. However, it's the first book I'm reading with a dictionary next to me in a long while. English is not my native language, but usually I have no trouble reading books or watching movies without ever having to look a word up. If a word is new to me, I'm usually good at guessing the meaning from context. Setterfield's style seems to be very .. antique. There are lots of words I have never heard before, and though I could guess them from context just fine, I feel like I have to look all of them up to do her novel justice!"

I actually wish I had a kindle version of this book. There was a word or two I wasn't familiar with either. It seems fitting with the fact the main character brings the voice of old back to life that the author would bring back words of old as well. :)


message 25: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments You know, they don't have a 13 floor in some buildings because of bad luck. I wonder if the 13th book will somehow fit into this.


Sarah | 3273 comments I thought the thirteenth tale would be her last tale, the one she is going to share with Margaret.


message 27: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments I wouldn't be surprised, but I'm curious why she didn't include it?


Sarah | 3273 comments I got the impression it is only now she is ready to share some truth about her self or her life or something. This is all speculation.


Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 159 comments Emi wrote: "I had a teacher that said something caught on fire while she was reading and didn't notice until her friend was yelling at her."

Ah, I forgot that one, but when I was 13 or so, I once managed to let a whole saucepan full of rice burn, so engrossed was I in my reading. And it was brown rice (not the kind you cook in 8 minutes only), and I was sitting right next to the stove.

Yeah, OK, reading can definitely be dangerous. Good thing I don't read while driving. ;)


message 30: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments I'm not sure what happened to Amanda. She was supposed to post questions yesterday. I'll try to get some up later.


message 31: by Lisa (last edited Aug 04, 2014 05:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa (spirolim) | 98 comments Question and Comments for August 2nd
The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter


1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)
I don't remember seeing the word corpse a lot, but the writing style was amazing; it's what hooked me in the first place. You immediately get the impression that this is going to be a dark and sad tale, but you want to keep reading anyway because the writing is so beautiful.

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol
I don't remember being in any physical danger while reading, but lately I sometimes get so into a novel, that I'm in danger of being late for work.

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?
I think that if I was a biographer I would be very interested. That letter was fantastically intriguing, and Vida Winter is a rather strange, slightly creepy woman. But she seems to be the type of woman who knows what she wants, and is used to getting her way. You know that there must be something dark in her past if she's reluctant to talk about it.

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?
I think I would be a little shell-shocked, but I would confront my family and ask why they never mentioned it. It's not fair to everyone if nobody talks about it. If I were the parent, I would have said something as soon as the my child was old enough to understand.

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?
I would! I love history and archaeology, and I would love to read someone's diary from the past. It would be fun to compare their life with mine.

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?
I think that's a cool idea. It gives you the impression that there's more to tell, but the world's not ready for the 13th tale. You also led to believe that the author's tale is like a fairy tale.


message 32: by Lisarenee (last edited Aug 04, 2014 01:49PM) (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Questions and Comments for August 3rd
And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley

7) What did you think of the statement,"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." I rather liked that. Have you ever thought about families in such a way? Do you agree or disagree with her statement?

8) What did you make of Charlie and Isabelle? Disturbing or what? It sounds like Isabelle killed her husband.

9) I kept wondering if Charlie and Isabelle would hurt the twins. It sounded like Missus and John-the-Dig raised the kids more so than anyone else. Do you think the girls destroyed the garden? What did you make of their twin speak?

10) Knowing Isabelle was Miss Winter's mother and Charlie her uncle, would you be a little nervous being with her? Yes, I know we're not our parents, but...

11) After the preambulator story are you as curious as I am to find out how Adeline/Miss Winters went from such a wild unspeaking child to the author and woman she's become? I find it interesting she's addressing herself in the third person. Do you think this is because of her storyteller nature?

12) What do you think happened to Charlie without Isabella? Do you think things will change for the girls? I have a bad feeling.



Kelly (ladykatala) | 5020 comments Question and Comments for August 2nd
The Letter - Meeting Miss Winter


1) What do think of the author's writing style? Does it remind you of any other author's? She certainly uses the word corpse a lot. Do you get a sense that this is going to be a dark tale? (Ironically, I started reading this one on a dark and stormy night.)
It's an ok writing style. It's not my favorite since I don't seem to be able to read it quickly enough to stay in the story well. It's more of the artistic writing style.

2) "Reading can be dangerous." Have you ever had a dangerous encounter of a bookish kind? I loved that story. I confess to walking into things and people. lol
That reminds me a bit of how there used to be book burnings to remove knowledge from people and how even now there's banned books in schools. I think reading helps open you to idea's outside your immediate local populous which causes things to change much more rapidly. (Also could be the internet nowadays since young people are causing uprisings in a lot of areas now because they have access to outside idea's.)

3) If someone sent you a letter like Vida Winter's, would you be intrigued enough to go meet with her? (That is, of course, if you were a person who writes biographies?) What's your initial impression of Vida? Do you think she'll tell Margaret her true story?
I'd probably go see her. She seems interesting but fairly lonely. I think she'll tell what she wants to be her true story but I doubt it would be entirely true. I'm not sure any of us could tell our actually true story since memories change what was truth.

4) What would you do if you discovered you had a twin who died? If you were a parent, would you tell your child about her lost sibling? I wonder how long the twin lived?
Hrm. I would tell my kids eventually. It's too hard of a concept when you're really little. I can't imagine the twin lived past about 3 since Margaret would probably remember her then. I don't know what I'd do but I do remember it being odd finding out my mother had a miscarriage so I could have had another or a different sibling.

5) What did you think of Margaret's hobby of bringing the voices of those from long ago to life again in her biographies? What did you think of the statement, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” Would you enjoy reading someone's diary from the past?
Maybe. I like historical fiction books well since they tend to bring people to life (or "people" as the case may be). I suppose a diary could be like that though mostly people are writing those for themselves and not others. I've never been much for paying attention to celebrities lives so I feel like reading someone's diary is a little like reading a tabloid of them. Both are a strange look into someone's personal life that they may not have chosen to share.

6) What do you make of the 13 Tales that contain only 12?
It reminded me of the new fad of ending a book without explaining what really happened. Though I suspect the 13th story is her story.


Kelly (ladykatala) | 5020 comments Yzabel wrote: "I walked into a lamppost once. But since that time, I've developed a sense of my surroundings. I can usually read while walking, and not run the risk of bumping into people or cars. ^^;"

I read while I walk on the treadmill. I haven't fallen off yet.


Sandra Hofmann (zebrainviolett) | 1 comments Kelly wrote: I'm not sure any of us could tell our actually true story since memories change what was truth.

I agree with this! I realize it again and again when I meet old friends from childhood and we talk about events from long ago. It's both funny and weird how this memories are ever-changing.


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Imke (immie75) | 1642 comments Questions and Comments for August 3rd
And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley


7) What did you think of the statement,"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." I rather liked that. Have you ever thought about families in such a way? Do you agree or disagree with her statement?
I liked this as well. This statement made me think about this and I think I agree. There are always things that you take with you from previous generations in your family and the actions or behavior of ancestors can still have an influence on the way you act.

8) What did you make of Charlie and Isabelle? Disturbing or what? It sounds like Isabelle killed her husband.
The relationship between Charlie and Isabelle was extremely disturbing. I don’t think she killed her husband, she just didn’t care about him. I think she neglected him, just like she was neglecting the twins.

9) I kept wondering if the Charlie and Isabelle would hurt the twins. It sounded like Missus and John-the-Dig raised the kids more so than anyone else. Do you think the girls destroyed the garden? What did you make of their twin speak?
I had more the feeling that the twins didn’t exist to Charlie and Isabelle. Missus and John-the-Dig definitely tried to raise the girls, but they didn’t succeed. I’m sure the girls destroyed the garden, I was heartbroken when I read John’s story with this effect I felt so sorry for him, in a way they destroyed his family not only the trees. I wasn’t surprised by the twin speak, that happens sometimes with twins.

10) Knowing Isabelle was Miss Winter's mother and Charlie her uncle, would you be a little nervous being with her? Yes, I know we're not our parents, but...
I think she definitely inherited some strange things from her family and maybe some mental problems. I think Margaret described her eyes as being empty, or soulless. I think that has what she got from her family that she lives in her own world.

11) After the preambulator story are you as curious as I am to find out how Adeline/Miss Winters went from such a wild unspeaking child to the author and woman she's become? I find it interesting she's addressing herself in the third person. Do you think this is because of her storyteller nature?
I think that what has happened to her sister had something to do with what she is like now, but I have a feeling that she is playing with us and that she has some tricks up her sleeve. The talking in the third person is I think a story telling nature and maybe a way of distancing herself a little bit.

12) What do you think happened to Charlie without Isabella? Do you think things will change for the girls? I have a bad feeling.
I have a feeling he is going to end up like his dad, that he can’t cope with Isabelle being gone and he just lets go of his life. I don’t think things will change for the girls, it will get worse.


Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 159 comments Questions and Comments for August 3rd
And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley

7) What did you think of the statement,"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." I rather liked that. Have you ever thought about families in such a way? Do you agree or disagree with her statement?


I guess it's quite true. A lot of things contribute to shaping human beings, and to me, your upbringing, your family, are a whole you can't just be dissociated of (well, not in general).

8) What did you make of Charlie and Isabelle? Disturbing or what? It sounds like Isabelle killed her husband.

I'm not sure she did. She probably just went about her life, and didn't really care when he fell ill. Unless there's some subtext I missed, but right now I don't really see any motive for her to kill him. (Such as lack of money: considering how she didn't care about the state of her house, I wouldn't be convinced.)

Charlie and Isabelle had a disturbing relationship. Kind of love you-hurt you. Maybe that's why she went away for a time (to escape *and* to hurt him? Also what her father did), but came back because she didn't want to stay away from him once there was no more husband in the game.

9) I kept wondering if Charlie and Isabelle would hurt the twins. It sounded like Missus and John-the-Dig raised the kids more so than anyone else. Do you think the girls destroyed the garden? What did you make of their twin speak?

Yes, they definitely destroyed it. It's so heavily implied that I'm not sure who else could have done it.
I wondered if they'd hurt the twins, too, but it soon became apparent they just wouldn't care about them. The way Isabelle brought them to her brother at first, the way he didn't even realise the bundles were babies, was a telltale sign.
As for twin speak, I know it happens, so I wasn't too surprised.

10) Knowing Isabelle was Miss Winter's mother and Charlie her uncle, would you be a little nervous being with her? Yes, I know we're not our parents, but...
I'm not sure I'd feel at ease. Not scared, but just... the way sometimes, you don't "feel" a person. It's hard not to let knew knowledge get in the way.

11) After the preambulator story are you as curious as I am to find out how Adeline/Miss Winters went from such a wild unspeaking child to the author and woman she's become? I find it interesting she's addressing herself in the third person. Do you think this is because of her storyteller nature?

Clearly, I wondered about what changed her, what made it so that she became a (at least somewhat) functional adult.
It might be her storyteller nature surfacing, yes. Or perhaps also a way of distanciating herself from that life, since she mentioned the fire having put an end to it.

12) What do you think happened to Charlie without Isabella? Do you think things will change for the girls? I have a bad feeling.

I thought he'd waste away in some way or other.


Sandra Hofmann (zebrainviolett) | 1 comments Questions and Comments for August 3rd
And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley

7) What did you think of the statement,"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." I rather liked that. Have you ever thought about families in such a way? Do you agree or disagree with her statement?


I agree with that statement. I believe the experiences relatives from past generations in our families have made do have an effect on how we live our life.

8) What did you make of Charlie and Isabelle? Disturbing or what? It sounds like Isabelle killed her husband.

Gosh.. These two are creepy! At first I worried and thought: Oh no, it's going to be a story about abuse, Charlie is going to torture his innocent little sister. Well, he did, but.. I was sursprised to see that she is as disturbed as he is - or maybe she is even more disturbed, I couldn't decide!

And I actually agree that she might have killed her husband. The way she was counting days in her diary, went off to get married and then came back with the babies after a while - I think she might have used him to have a legitimate father of her daughters and then disposed of him to get back to Charlie. Is it just me or did anyone else think that Charlie actually was the father of the girls?
But I'm not entirely sure, it's just a feeling provoced by her being so creepy. He might have died of natural causes.

9) I kept wondering if Charlie and Isabelle would hurt the twins. It sounded like Missus and John-the-Dig raised the kids more so than anyone else. Do you think the girls destroyed the garden? What did you make of their twin speak?

I wasn't worried about the girls getting abused by Charlie and Isabelle, I just expected them of neglecting them, which they did. And yes, I think they destroyed the garden. There is no onse else who could have done it, and regarding the baby incident, they really seem to be prone to bad behaviour! The twin speak didn't surprise me much. I know twins in my personal life and I know that when they were kids, they had their own language, too. It seems to be common among twins.

10) Knowing Isabelle was Miss Winter's mother and Charlie her uncle, would you be a little nervous being with her? Yes, I know we're not our parents, but...

I think I would. Miss Winter told about the twins staring at human and not noticing that they were alive, and Margaret did tell us that Miss Winter's eyes seem to be soulless, so I wonder how much she has really changed over the years. But she is old and sick, so I wouldn't be too worried about her physically hurting me, but .. still creeped out.

11) After the preambulator story are you as curious as I am to find out how Adeline/Miss Winters went from such a wild unspeaking child to the author and woman she's become? I find it interesting she's addressing herself in the third person. Do you think this is because of her storyteller nature?

Either she just grew up / got to be more balanced over the years, or something happened that changed here. Maybe it was the fire she mentioned. I'm curious to read this story!
Well, to be honest, I didn't think much about the addressing of herself in third person. It sure helps to make the book readable as we already have Margaret as a first-person-narrator, and I think two of them would be confusing. But yes, it could be Miss Winter's storyteller nature. Or maybe she really changed for whatever reason since she was this creepy little girl and wants to distance herself from it.



I think Charlie will just fade away like his father did. I don't expect him to use the girls to get rid of his frustration, he probably will just go on ignoring them.



Kelly (ladykatala) | 5020 comments Questions and Comments for August 3rd
And So We Began - Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley


7) What did you think of the statement,"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born...Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole." I rather liked that. Have you ever thought about families in such a way? Do you agree or disagree with her statement?
It probably depends a lot on the family. Some families probably don't impact each other as much as others, some people might have friends who influence them more.

8) What did you make of Charlie and Isabelle? Disturbing or what? It sounds like Isabelle killed her husband.
They do seem rather messed up. I'm surprised they didn't take Isabelle away earlier.

9) I kept wondering if the Charlie and Isabelle would hurt the twins. It sounded like Missus and John-the-Dig raised the kids more so than anyone else. Do you think the girls destroyed the garden? What did you make of their twin speak?
I think it probably didn't help any that they're really isolated from others. That would probably promote the twin speak a lot more. I think they probably destroyed the garden though I suppose it could have been Charlie and Isabelle and they were setting the twins up.

10) Knowing Isabelle was Miss Winter's mother and Charlie her uncle, would you be a little nervous being with her? Yes, I know we're not our parents, but...
Dunno. Knowing she's Adeline is freaky enough. The twins are pretty strange too.

11) After the preambulator story are you as curious as I am to find out how Adeline/Miss Winters went from such a wild unspeaking child to the author and woman she's become? I find it interesting she's addressing herself in the third person. Do you think this is because of her storyteller nature?
I think the fire changed her and she didn't want to be Adeline anymore.

12) What do you think happened to Charlie without Isabella? Do you think things will change for the girls? I have a bad feeling.
I think he sets the fire that hurts Adeline and I assume kills Emmaline. He seems to have a lot of sadist in him.


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Moderators of NBRC | 30809 comments Mod
Questions and Comments for August 4th
Dicken's Study - The Box of Lives

13. Why do you think Miss Winter is so afraid that Margaret will leave and not come back? Why is it so important she get her 'real' story out now when she has told over a dozen versions already?

14. Why do you think that Vida Winter would invent all of these different stories about her own life and past? Do you think she invented the man in the brown suit like Margaret believes she did?

15. The scene where she investigates the old burnt-out house was creepy. What did you think of it? Would you have investigated the house?

16. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that there is more to Aurelius Love's story than he is letting on?

17. What's with Margaret seeing the 'ghost' in Angelfield and her thinking that 'she' came for Margaret at night? Do you think Margaret had a twin too, or is she getting too caught up in Miss Winter's story?



message 41: by Moderators of NBRC, Challenger-in-Chief (last edited Aug 05, 2014 04:45AM) (new) - added it

Moderators of NBRC | 30809 comments Mod
Kelly said, "It's an ok writing style. It's not my favorite since I don't seem to be able to read it quickly enough to stay in the story well. It's more of the artistic writing style."

I tried to picture reading the story with a faster pace, but I don't think it would have the same effect. I kind of feel it suits the book, but I understand what you mean.

Kelly said, "That reminds me a bit of how there used to be book burnings to remove knowledge from people and how even now there's banned books in schools."

Me too. :)

Kelly said, "I'm not sure any of us could tell our actually true story since memories change what was truth."

Yes, things get skewed/slanted by our own thoughts and opinions.

~Lisarenee



message 42: by Moderators of NBRC, Challenger-in-Chief (last edited Aug 05, 2014 04:55AM) (new) - added it

Moderators of NBRC | 30809 comments Mod
Imke said, "I’m sure the girls destroyed the garden"

I confess, my first thought was of Charlie, but it seems like once Isabelle was back he got tamer or perhaps after he started the strange relationship with her.

Imke said, "The talking in the third person is I think a story telling nature and maybe a way of distancing herself a little bit."

I think you're right.


message 43: by Lisarenee (last edited Aug 05, 2014 05:43AM) (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Amanda took the last set of questions, but I thought I'd make a few comments. I thought it interesting that all of a sudden, Vida starting using 'me' and 'I' and her storytelling went from third to first person. Is this the section where she found herself? I'm curious why the change?

Also, remember the comment earlier in the book where she stated that people liked her stories because she had a beginning, middle, and end in the proper order? Did you notice the three different section headings--Beginnings, Middles, and Endings? It's the middle section that she changes narrative. I'm curious if they'll be a change in the third? For some reason the order comment reminds me of puzzles and how you have to put the pieces in their proper order to solve them. I wonder if that's the reason for the statement?


message 44: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Imke said, "I have a feeling that she is playing with us and that she has some tricks up her sleeve."

The more I read, the more I think you're right, Imke.


message 45: by Lisa (last edited Aug 05, 2014 07:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa (spirolim) | 98 comments Lisarenee wrote: "Amanda took the last set of questions, but I thought I'd make a few comments. I thought it interesting that all of a sudden, Vida starting using 'me' and 'I' and her storytelling went from third to..."

I'm impressed that you caught that! I didn't notice this the first time I read this book. It definitely is significant, but I don't want to spoil anything. :) Just keep noting it when it happens.
As for the Beginnings, Middles And Endings bit, that's also significant. The Ending is where everything comes together, and you get all the answers.
This book really was very well done. I've already read this twice, and this discussion is making me want to read it again.


Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) | 1050 comments I am going to reread this. I loved it the first time.


Sandra Hofmann (zebrainviolett) | 1 comments Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to read today and am still stuck at the end of the "Dicken's study" chapter - it's harder to keep up with the pace of a group read than I thought.
But I was thinking.. Why are we even so sure that Miss Winter is the twin Adeline? That came to my mind when I thought about her narrating in third person. I first thought that she has to be Adeline, mostly because of the conversation where she mentioned the fire, but maybe she is not and that's why she is talking in third person? And the twins are still part of the stories of the past generations that influenced her life? I'm kind of expecting her to continue her story with: "Oh, and THEN I was born!" But we'll see! :)
Oh, I hope I'll find time to go on reading soon, this novel has me hooked! Even when I don't have time to read it, I wonder about it.


message 48: by Lisarenee (new)

Lisarenee | 7659 comments Christine wrote: "I am going to reread this. I loved it the first time."

I really like it so far. I'm wondering about the numbers and if they hold any significance? She stressed the rule of three--there are three parts in a book (beginning, middle, end) and thirteen is almost always symbolic of things as Sandra pointed out. I'm wondering if she was on to something there?


Yzabel Ginsberg (yzabelginsberg) | 159 comments Questions and Comments for August 4th
Dicken's Study - The Box of Lives

13. Why do you think Miss Winter is so afraid that Margaret will leave and not come back? Why is it so important she get her 'real' story out now when she has told over a dozen versions already?


Perhaps because she's dying, and she's afraid she won't have the time to finish? After telling so many versions, she may want to get the *real* one out (or at least, one she really cares about--a sort of Last Story I'll Ever Tell).

14. Why do you think that Vida Winter would invent all of these different stories about her own life and past? Do you think she invented the man in the brown suit like Margaret believes she did?

Possibly. She looks like the kind of person who wants to shape her life from A to Z, and telling different stories is a way of swathing this persona of hers in mystery, as "the mysterious author about whom nobody really knows anything"?

15. The scene where she investigates the old burnt-out house was creepy. What did you think of it? Would you have investigated the house?

I guess I would have, yes, if only to imagine what the house might have looked like, and get a feeling for the place.

16. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that there is more to Aurelius Love's story than he is letting on?

I'd be sorely disappointed if there wasn't more about him!

17. What's with Margaret seeing the 'ghost' in Angelfield and her thinking that 'she' came for Margaret at night? Do you think Margaret had a twin too, or is she getting too caught up in Miss Winter's story?

Yeah, she definitely had a twin--at least if we can believe her regarding the birth certificate and the dead sister her parents didn't tell her about. It seems to me she never came to terms with that, maybe in a kind of "survivor guilt" way? And so she'd see that twin sister as a ghost.


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Imke (immie75) | 1642 comments Questions and Comments for August 4th
Dicken's Study - The Box of Lives


13. Why do you think Miss Winter is so afraid that Margaret will leave and not come back? Why is it so important she get her 'real' story out now when she has told over a dozen versions already?
I think she’s afraid that she does not have enough time to tell her story. I think she considers telling her story a sort of confession and wants to be absolved from whatever she has done.

14. Why do you think that Vida Winter would invent all of these different stories about her own life and past? Do you think she invented the man in the brown suit like Margaret believes she did?
I think she may have invented the man to lure Margaret. She is hiding things from her past and therefor doesn’t want her history known.

15. The scene where she investigates the old burnt-out house was creepy. What did you think of it? Would you have investigated the house?
It was creepy and I think a little foolish. Who goes inside a ruin that looks unstable? I wouldn’t have gone inside.

16. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that there is more to Aurelius Love's story than he is letting on?
I hope so, I liked her meeting with Aurelius Love.

17. What's with Margaret seeing the 'ghost' in Angelfield and her thinking that 'she' came for Margaret at night? Do you think Margaret had a twin too, or is she getting too caught up in Miss Winter's story?
Margaret did have a twin, I think that is the commonality between Margaret and Miss Winter.


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