The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield has been sitting on my bookcase for a couple of months waiting patiently for me to lift it from its spot, blow off the dust, and tell me its story. This book was so deliciously Gothic, and I loved it. Everything from the story, the writing, the ghost elements, was beautiful. The only thing this story lacks is a love story. Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of love, and a lot of longing for love, just not in the traditional way we all think about love. You know how much I love...love.
To give you a taste of the writing:
"My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with the
truth itself. What succor, what consolation is there in the truth,
compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when
the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning
strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with
its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in
your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to
your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The
soothing, rocking safety of a lie."
I love that quote. Sometimes we get so tired of hearing the truth that we just need the lies or the stories to soothe us into a better state of being. We need a story to escape the pain of truth. This quote is also so beautifully written that I stopped reading after that paragraph, looked away from the book and thought, "huh." She hit it right on the head with beautiful language. Not only did she seem to get something right with this quote, but did so in a way that is disturbing. We shouldn't be comforted in lies.
Margaret Lea leads an un-extraordinary life. She helps her father tend his bookstore and spends most of her time reading old classics over and over and studying the lives of the authors. One day she receives a mysterious letter from one of the most loved authors of the day, Vida Winter. Miss Winter has asked Margaret to come and write her biography; she has a final story to tell, the thirteenth tale. Margaret has never read anything by the famed Vida Winter so she decides if she is going to ever portray this woman accurately she should start by reading her books. What surprises Margaret the most is she becomes so absorbed in the works of Miss Winter that she must find out what the unwritten thirteenth tale is. She accepts Vida Winter's offer, but she doesn't hear the story she expects.
If you love Gothic novels like Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White, etc. Then I trust you will thoroughly enjoy this one.