DIANE SETTERFIELD THE THIRTEENTH TALE PDF

S Byatt had written this novel, as I suspect Setterfield may not have felt up to the task of writing the thirteenth tale, which has a fascinating premise Byatt, I am sure, would have written a gorgeous tale to end the book with. Lots of people told me that this was a book I needed to read, but many of those people also warned me that I might find it slow So I went into The Thirteenth Tale prepared for a subtle plot that moved at a gentle pace well maybe my expectations are to blame but that wasn t what I got Slow Not for me There was not a slow moment in this story because the prose itself was dynamic and consumingly evocative I was intrigued by the mystery, seduced by the characters and caught up in page after page of well written family drama. I, for one, was totally sucked into every aspect of the story The writing had hold of me, the characters made me need to know about their lives, the mysteries surrounding Winters youth kept me guessing If it s possible, I think this book made me love books even. There is no reference to time in the setting of The Thirteenth Tale From the context clues, I d guess that it s set in the s It s a world where people still write letters and where if phone lines go down in a storm, country homes are cut off from contact with civilization Manuscripts are written by hand The feel of the book is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, a novel that itself is woven throughout the plot. The story begins when Margaret Lea, a little published biographer, is summoned by Vida Winter, famous novelist Ms Winter is finally ready to tell her true life story, rather than another of the many versions she s given of her life over the years As she does so, Margaret and the reader are drawn into the mystery that shrouds Ms Winter Through the stories she tells Margaret as well as the accounts of Margaret s own investigations, we eventually learn the truth both about Ms Winter and the legendary Thirteenth Tale, a story that was left out of an early collection written by Ms Winter There are enough twists to keep the story interesting and unpredictable.

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I really, really wanted to like this book. I heard good things about it, and it has many elements I usually love in a novel: a Victorian sensibility, questions of identity and sisterhood as well as siblinghood generally , meta-commentary on writing, and a plain, quiet, somewhat chilly protagonist who prefers books to people. The protagonist, Margaret, grew up in a bookstore and learned to read using 19th century novels, and there are clear parallels in the story to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Sigh.

The protagonist, Margaret, grew up in a bookstore and learned to read using 19th century novels, and there are clear parallels in the story to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw, and so on.

And yet, with all it had going for it, somehow it fell flat for me. Somehow it felt slight and, eventually, tedious at the same time.

There were definitely many interesting moments, but for some reason, the "gothic" elements of the story never swept me up in the passion and scandal the way it would if the Brontes or Wilkie Collins wrote it. Yet despite this, the ending feels rushed, and the mysterious "thirteenth tale," which Margaret receives in writing toward the end, is only excerpted. One wishes A. Byatt had written this novel, as I suspect Setterfield may not have felt up to the task of writing "the thirteenth tale," which has a fascinating premise.

Byatt, I am sure, would have written a gorgeous tale to end the book with. I kept comparing it to the in my opinion wonderful The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which is also a first novel by a former academic.

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