Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (highly recommended)

I just finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It is a Gothic mystery novel about a mysterious author, Vida Winter who finally shares her real childhood story. The book had a very satisfying ending; when was the last time you read a book where you felt satisfied at the end. It is a rare thing indeed. I really liked this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes murder-mysteries in the style of Agatha Christie.
Vida Winters is a very popular and successful writer but no one knows about her past. One day, Margaret Lea, a bookstore owner's daughter gets a letter from Vida Winters. Ms. Winters wants Margaret Lea to write her biography, her real biography. In the past, Ms. Winters has only told interviewers made-up fictional accounts of her childhood. The rest of the book is about Vida Winter's story and how it relates to the event in the present, with a satisfying reveal at the end.
There was no profanity that I can remember.
If the book were a film, it would be rated PG.
There was violence but it wasn't described in detail, it was only hinted at.
The beginning of the book was a little slow for my tastes. It took me a while to get into the characters and the story. But, in the middle of the book, the story really took shape and the momentum of the story took me to the end, which I really liked.
In a few places, I thought her analogies were a little campy but overall, her writing was very good. The reading level was easy; I didn't have to go to the dictionary too many times. The writing very much flowed; it was an easy read.
I liked her theme of twins and 'what completes a person' and ghosts throughout the book.
I didn't like Aurelius as a character. He seemed superfluous.
Things to Note:
This book was published in 2006.
This book is Diane Setterfield's first novel.
A week after its release, it become a number one New York Times best seller (which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you think of the NY Times best seller's list).
Overall, I thought the book was very good. The slow pacing in the beginning of the book is the only real criticism. The book was an easy and fun read. I would highly recommend this to anyone that likes a good (but not too intense) murder-mystery. Good times.

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