17 July, 2008

Book Club: The Thirteenth Tale

Before I drop the mini's off at summer camp and head out for a day of "Ladies on the Lake" with my book club girls (can I just tell you how much I am looking forward to soaking up the sun on the lake today?), I thought it only fitting to share a long overdue book club review with you guys. I read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield many months ago but have been dying to share it with ya'll. No, this isn’t my typical chick-lit genre that keeps me laughing out loud annoying everyone within earshot of me, but rather an excellent, not to be missed work of fiction that will have you on the edge of your seat througout the entire book, and then deeply sorryto see it end.

It takes about 40 pages to really get into the book and you will probably be cursing me for it being boring those first 40 pages, but don’t give up! The entire rest of the book after that set-up will have give you more twists and turns and secrets and unexpected discoveries than you could ever imagine. This book had me literally reading at stop lights in the car because I could not put it down and read it fast enough. Those of you gals’ looking for a GREAT book club discussion book, look no further! There is SO MUCH to delve into and pick apart and dissect in this book that we all had notes in the margins of our books while we were reading. And rarely does the end of a book leave me speechless, but I honestly gasped out loud while reading the end of this story because it was so shocking and unexpected. Simply put, this book is NOT to be missed!

Amazon.com Review
Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.
There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:

"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."

She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller."

"I am a biographer, I work with facts."

The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida's plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story's end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told. --Valerie Ryan


TCP said...

Have fun at the lake! I am soooo jealous!

Susan said...

It is a terrific book! You are right about the first 40-50 pages but then you just can't put it down. The characters are so real and the narration is riviting.

Enjoy your time away!

Pink Preppy Party Girl said...

This book was just brought up last night at our book group. Thank you for the information.

Monogram Momma said...

Thanks, girls! I had a fun time on the lake today with my book club girlfriends while our kids were at summer camp for the day. We all even had the dad's pick up the kids for us so it was a fun mid-week treat to be on the lake and boat minus screaming kids making a mess everywhere. ;-)

Susan I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's read this! didn't you just LOVE IT?! This is one of those books that just stays with you and the storytelling was unbelievable. I hope Ms. Setterfield writes another book b/c this one is on my "favorite books" list.

Kelly said...

I am headed to Bermuda on Friday and I am going to buy the book today. I am looking forward to a good read.
Thanks for the suggestion.

jhlomedico said...

I read the book and loved it too. I thought about the book long afterwards, especially the disturbing parts. Great recommendation!

Monogram Momma said...

Jo: Doesn't that book really stay with you? I could NOT stop thinking about it and telling everyone I knew to read it. I ended up passing it along 3 different times! I really hope she writes another book because I am a HUGE fan now.

Liv Mac said...

I've just finished a book and was desperately searching for something great to read. This looks just the sort thing I love. I'm ordering it from amazon as I write. Thanks for the review.

Liv Mac said...


I have just finished reading a book and was desperately searching for the next one. This sounds like the perfect book for me. I'm ordering from amazon as I write.