The Thirteenth Tale The Thirteenth Tale discussion

Jane Eyre meets Bette Davis

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message 1: by Joan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joan This book stood me on my head.

Margaret is a beautiful character-- cautious, bookish, fact loving. Vida is harsh, enigmatic, and a great storyteller. The merger of these two characters produces a wonderful, perhaps horrible is a better word, story.

It is an intriguing tale. You will want more.

message 2: by Helen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Helen Lee bought me this wonderful book in April and I devoured it, let my daughter Kash read it and she declared it one of the best books ever, and then I sent it on to my sister-in-law Janice and she wrote me yesterday that she could not put it down and will not return it until my brother Richard reads it. Way Good! And I love the "Jane Eyre meets Bette Davis" topic.

Barb Bolesta I just finished it last night. It was recommended by two friends, but I didn't think I would really like it. Not the kind of book I usually read - Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Deaver, Dan Brown, etc. I usually don't read English authors, as I've found them a little too slow and descriptive. But, I really liked this book. It took a few chapters to get with the style and cadence of the speech, but I was hooked. It was descriptive without being flowery and boring.

The one thing that bothered me, though, was the complete lack of dates and time period references. I never new if it was set in present-day time, the '50's, or what. I never knew how to imagine their dress, hair styles, furniture, car, etc. as I read. (Does anyone else have a movie going in their head while reading?) From the writing style, my brain automatically pictured a 1950's setting, until 3/4 of the way through, I read one mention of the word computer, then had to wonder why on earth anyone would write all that out by hand and not use a recorder and computer when their goal was to take notes and write a book! The omission of all birth and death dates was so obvious, but I really wanted to know them and resented it that none were given, hence the lack of time references. Would have also liked a little more romance than the just the last page.

I admit that I didn't have the whole thing figured out correctly until Margaret (or Diane)told us. Congratulations. Not going to spoil it for everybody else. I did have to make a little genealogy chart to keep the names straight, then used it as my bookmark. Probably just my age showing. Didn't think my husband would like it, but I will recommend this book to my female friends.

Leslie I can't wait to read this after reading this discussion!!!

message 5: by Jordan (new)

Jordan Bailey Probably one of the best books I've ever read. The storytelling was beautiful, and the characters all so unique.
I loved all the idea of reading books as a cure. Sherlock Holmes as the medicine for being overly romantic? Hehe. Love it.

Helen Go for it Leslie. You are right on Jordan. I felt the characters strongly and the story takes us from probably the 1930s to the computer age. Part of the fun in reading this was the Jane Eyre mood and references. It is, and I believe will remain a favorite book.

Everyone must also read Ivan Doig's The Whistling Season. I read it two years ago, have given it to ??? many people, my daughter is reviewing it tonight for her book club, and I am waiting for a friend to return my copy so I can read it again.

Carrie Just bought THIRTEENTH TALE last night :)
Can't wait to finish it! I've been hooked from the very beginning!

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie going on vacation this weekend, the beach and this book, any other suggestions for a 'can't put it down' read?

Mary Jane Eyre meets Betty Davis-- very apt!

I was immediately drawn in to this book, and kept visualizing it very much as a 1930's-1940's movie style; I thought it evoked the same aura of mystery as "Laura" or "Rebecca".

message 10: by Barb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barb Bolesta Julie, can't go wrong with Nora Roberts, unless you've read all 200 of them like I have. Janet Evanovich is pure fun (start at the beginning), and Dan Brown for exciting adventure thriller, especially Angels and Demons. Enjoy the beach. It's suppose to sleet and snow tonight in St. Louis.

Abbey I read it for a book club and was surprised by how much i enjoyed it.

Helen Julie Dear:
For great vacation reading after Thirteenth Tale (which for Mary smacked a bit of Rebecca--another favorite of mine which also smacks of Jane Eyre) pick up The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig---I have talked with three more people this past week who feel as I do---it is great. If you haven't read Rebecca that is a good vacation read also. And then do the movie.
Our daughter did her book review of Whistling Season Thurday evening and the large group of very literate women are going to read it again. Sooo good.

Laura We're reading this for Book Club in May, and based on your discussion it looks to be interesting.
Here's my question: Do I need to have read Jane Eyre to really "get" it? Jane's been on my list of must-reads for a while but I've not done it yet....what do you think?

message 14: by Barb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barb Bolesta Not at all. I haven't read Jane Eyre and I did just fine. It's just a good book. Enjoy it.

Jennifer I have declared this book my favorite. And that is because as soon as I closed the back cover I wanted to start it again immediately. Hey Barb, I noticed the lack of time references also, but you know? I liked it. I also have a movie running in my head, and that particular aspect actually kept me from casting the book with whatever movie stars there are. I had to create them and imagine them as they were presented to me. Perhaps that was easier since I assumed from the beginning it was present time. I didn't guess ahead or figure out the mystery until Vida was laying it out. It came rushing to me almost as fast as she was describing it, which really made for a climactic, emotional ending for me. I wonder if Diane Setterfield will give us some more Margaret.

Helen Reading a summary of Jane Eyre might make Thirteenth Tale a bit more interesting but is certainly not necessaary. A one time reading of Jane Eyre just sticks in your literary lobe but this book stands well on its own---enjoy. But do read Jane Eyre . . . if for no other reason than to say you have. Now, is that shallow or what?

Melissa I agree with Barb & Mary.

Barb--yes, the lack of time periods was annoying. Margaret wore trousers but Vida's generation wore dresses. I just couldn't quite get it. Honestly in my mind's eye, Vida's childhood was like 1900-1910 but then Margaret's jumped to at least 1970's. I know it is a stretch, but I just couldn't get the time period figured out and it did bug me--especially at the beginning, but once I just saw as that, than I kind of got over it.

Mary, I agree with you about the similarity to Rebecca. I kept thinking the exact same thing throughout the whole book--espcailly how Margaret is kind of insecure and annoying at times.

Concerning the discussion of reading Jane Eyre before this book, I don't think it's necessary but on that same line, I'm now very interested in reading the book, The Woman in White.

Laura Thanks for the advice. I read it for book club and I did enjoy it.
We discussed the lack of time references (no one was overly bothered). Another interesting thing that came up was the references/allusions/similarities to other books. One friend said she wondered if there were 12 other books - making this the 13th....
So here's our (incomplete) list - feel free to add:
1. Jane Eyre
2. Wuthering Heights
3. Woman in White
4. Scarlet Letter
5. Rebecca
...Dang I can't remember the other two!
Anyway it was an interesting thought!

Gayle What was the digging in the garden part? I have a friend who asked me this one and I don't know. I do love that there are aspects we never figure out, but this one screams symbolism that I missed.


message 20: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments, and wanted to respond to Barb's. I liked the lack of dates and the author's willingness to set our imaginations loose on the question, which only goes to show how subjective reading pleasure is! My conclusion was 40's, and the atmosphere was so...dense? laden? it kept reminding me of Daphne duMaurier's Rebecca (another fave). The reticence of the characters was also rather 40's, not at all the current spill-it-all-out-in-public approach to revelation. The parallels were interesting, as was the issue of being dishonest as a means of protecting those one loves. Lots of good questions raised. The book was recommended to me by a guy, but is one I'd be more likely to suggest to women. A great read for anyone who loves books.

Helen How many comments have I made? Sorry but I love this book and all your comments. You are right-on Jane! Timeless books are classics---my 72 year old brother and his wife are currently being visited by two children and we have discussed our dislike of the constant cry of "I'm bored" with so many children. We are never bored--it's a naughty word at my house. Reading books is a lock-out for boredom and time is irrelevant. And Jane's comment on the dishonesty as a means of protecting those one loves---another case of good coming from breaking "the rule". Rebecca is a redo of Jane Eyre and I love the mix we all get from the blending of characters and plots.

Darcy Mckenna I absolutely LOVED this book. It kept me reading way after I should have gone to bed. Someone else here mentioned Rebecca and I agree. This book gave me the same feel of darkness and something bad lurking. I loved the sense of two women circling around each other - both wanting to know the others secret without revealing her own first. I truly great read!

Rachel I LIKED this book. I didn't love it. Once I got into it I couldn't put it down and had that feeling of not wanting to rush through it because I was enjoying it and didn't want it to be finished. I was completely surprised by the twist at the end and want to re-read it to see what clues I missed. So yes, I thought it was a good story. The writing, though, seemed inconsistent to me. Several phrases were so perfectly written that I marvelled at the author's skill, but they were mingled with amateurish phrases like, "Something beyond reason compelled her to stay," and "Something beyond her understanding forced her to turn around," which sound like they were lifted from a really dumb soap opera novel. The other thing that really, really got on my nerves was the author's constant comparison of her novel to Jane Eyre and herself to Bronte. Give me a break! Jane Eyre is a classic for a reason, and this book does not come close to touching it, either in the level of writing of the development of the characters. The idea mentioned above about this possibly being viewed as the thirteenth tale in a list of twelve classics kind of makes my point - who does this author think she is???

Helen You read more deeply than I.

You critique more professionally than I.

You read more bad from this book than all the other (how many are there?)readers'comments listed

Perhaps my lack of skills in professional writing allows me to enjoy reading more. Could some of your criticisms of the writing missed the element of mystery? An element I appreciated.

Still thought it was a great read. But I'm old.

Leslie I'm enjoying reading this discussion, too! I was completely blown away by the ending and how things wrapped up! Wow! It was nothing that I had imagined...while I didn't give the book the highest rating, I certainly had a hard time putting it down!

I found parts of the book very disturbing--a little too much like the real world where moms and dads don't have parenting skills etc. etc.

Did anyone answer Gayle's question about the digging part? I want to get my book back to figure it out--now that it's been brought up!

message 26: by Rachel (last edited Aug 29, 2008 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rachel I thought that Emmeline/Adeline was digging in the garden in a naive attempt to find her twin who died in the fire. Remember she spoke the twin language and Margaret figured out that she was saying "The dead go underground" or something like that?

Are we supposed to be certain that Vita rescued Adeline from the fire, instead of Emmeline? When they are smothering their flames on the lawn she sees her face and panics, and immediately runs to take the baby from the church to Ms. Love's porch. Did she do this because she knew it was Adeline she had rescued, leaving Emmeline to die, or because even if it was Emmeline, she was too hurt to take care of her child? What does anyone else think?

I assumed that it was Emmeline, digging in the night to find her baby, until the end revealed that she might be Adeline.

Gayle I think the author does not intend for us to figure this out definitively. What that means, I'm not sure, maybe that some memories and experiences are too personal to share under any circumstances. Ownership belongs with the person who lived through the event and he or she gets to choose how much to relate to others. I guess what would be interesting to think about is why Vita did not confirm who survived the fire and who died years later.

Darcy Mckenna I LOVE the comparison! So true!

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