Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale - Book Review

The Thirteenth Tale
By Diane Setterfield
Originally published 2006
Anchor Books Canada 2007

Margaret Lea grew up in an antiquarian bookship. Her father owned and ran it. Margaret would spend hours reading these antiquarian books whenever she was not in school.

As I read the first chapter describing Margarets life, I was quite jealous. I do wish I had grown up in an antiquarian book shop in real life. Despite my fathers love for reading, which I inheritted from him, he was an accountant, not a book seller.

Anyway Marget is asked to be a biographer of a mysterious woam who is a well known writer. Her name is Vida Winter.

As Vida tells her story, Margaret eventually disocvers that Vida is not who she says she is.

Once upon a time there were twin daughters living up at the great house. Their names were Adeline and Emmeline. They lived with an old uncle and varuous housekeepers. Their mother was put into a psychiatric ward after the twins were born.

When the twins were 14 the great house burnt down and the twins disappeared. One bodyy was found in the ruins. It turns out to be a half sister of the twins and who looked just like them. Her name was Vida. Adeline changes her name to Vida and then takes care of Emmeline.

By the time Margaret arrives at the house to write Vida's biography, some 60 years have passed.

Vida refuses to say what happend to Adeline and Emmeline after they disappeared. Vida has published a book of short stories, There were 12 stories in it, but there should have been 13.

Margaret figures out who Vida really is and what happened to Emmeline. As a reward Margaret receives the manuscript of the 13th tale, just as Emmeline and Adeline (Vida) both die. Margaret chooses to not publish the 13th tale.

It was an interesting book, but I was rather disappointed that there was nothing more about antiquarian books after the first chapter.

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