Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book tells the story of many people - Vida Winter, brother and sister Charlie and Isabelle, twins Adeline and Emmeline, Aurelius, and Margaret.

Vida Winter is a very well known writer who has spent her life keeping others from knowing the story of her life.  As she is dying, she asks Margaret, a twin and someone who seems to live a good portion of her life through books rather than in the “real world,” to write her biography.  Thus begins the story of twins Adeline and Emmeline.  Vida’s story of the past is interspersed with Margaret’s current life and her research to verify what Vida is telling her.  This research brings her to the current day home of the twins and to Aurelius, who it turns out, in the end, is part of the story.  He also becomes a friend to Margaret, which it appears is something she doesn’t have.

This tale has classic elements - big houses and gardens, family secrets with a few twist and turns.  All is not what it seems.   What it doesn't have is romance and not everyone has a happy ending.

To me, this was a story of people who fell through the cracks.  I wondered if someone had intervened on behalf of Charlie and Isabelle, and later for the twins, how different their lives might have been.  I felt like the telling of the story gave Vida Winter closure with her past and in some ways allowed Margaret to make peace with her feelings about being a twin and to actually start living her life.

The end answers some questions, but raises others that can never be answered.  And, maybe they shouldn’t, because life doesn’t always give us answers.  All in all, I enjoyed this book and recommend it.  

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