Nancy Corbett

Books Read in 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

After finishing The Thirteenth Tale, I immediately went to Amazon to see what else I could order by this author. There, I read that this was a debut novel, and I could barely contain my disappointment. Setterfield has the strong, hypnotic voice of a seasoned, confident writer.

I read this book as an audio book, ordered from So, for a couple of weeks, I was locked in my car, listening to the two narrators, Vida Winter and Margaret Lea, tell their stories. The story has a thesis, which is stated in the form of a quote from Vida Winter's book, Tales of Change and Desperation. This thesis permeates the whole of the novel and sets the narrative tone.

"All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone, heart, mind and soul, ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get wont be the truth. It will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."

The writing is no less brilliant anywhere throughout. I found myself having difficulty placing the time of the setting. At one point, I was thinking gothic. Yet it took place after the Brontes and after Henry James. There is also mention of a telephone in the story. I will need to read it again, this time from the printed page. The flavors are not the same from one form to the next. The Thirteenth Tale is rich for readers who like that gothic flavor, for those who appreciate Jayne Eyre and The Turn of the Screw.

I am very excited to have found this new author and look forward to reading many books by her.

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams..." Arthur O'Shaughnessy


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