Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Tessa Bright Wildsmith
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Tessa Bright Wildsmith writes the weekly book review Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading. When she's not designing advertising and page layouts for Blount Today, she's reading. She loves books of all kinds, but mostly fiction. Some of her favorite authors are Chuck Palahniuk, Kelly Armstrong, Andre Dubus III and Sarah Waters. Feel free to email her any suggestions you have for a great book.

What do I say about “The Thirteenth Tale?” Truthfully, I could never find enough words to truly describe it. It was eerie, mysterious, strange and fantastic. It had so many different elements all woven into a wonderfully written story.

This is a book for people who really love books. The love of books and the effect they have on a reader is a constant underlying current in this story. Setterfield captures exactly what it’s like when you are so wrapped up in a story you forget to eat or sleep. You can’t put it down for anything, and the whole world disappears.

This book did that for me.

The book centers around a young biographer, Margaret Lea, writing the story of infamous recluse author Vida Winter. Vida has never told her “real” story to anyone and enjoys making up spectacular stories about her childhood to every reporter who asks. As she nears the end of her life, she finally decides she wants to tell the truth.

The story Margaret hears is a fascinating and tragic one about self-centered adults and a dysfunctional wealthy family. Odd twins Adeline and Emmeline grow up in strange home full of mysteries and tragedies. As the story unfolds, you find out just how tragic and unsettling their life really was.

Margaret has her own story of loss. As we slowly learn more of Vida’s story, we learn more and more about Margaret herself.

This book did something that very few books can do for me - it surprised me. Being an avid reader, I’m not easy to surprise or fool. Most of the time I can figure out what is going to happen in a book long before it happens. Endings, especially, are usually predictable. “The Thirteenth Tale” not only surprised me, it left me wondering why I never saw it coming. But I was excited and glad I didn’t!

It’s been a little over a month since I read “The Thirteenth Tale,” and I’m still thinking about it today. I tell everyone I talk to about this book. This is Diane Setterfield’s first book, and I can’t wait to read her next one. She wrote a fascinating story that stays with the reader long after the “Tale” is finished.

Have you read “The Thirteenth Tale?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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