I have seen the hashtag #throwbookthursday going around on Bookstagram and thought it would be a fun thing to bring to my blog. I am often talking about new releases, so I want to have way to bring attention to backlist titles! Each week I will highlight one or two books that were published in 2019 or earlier, though it does not matter when I read them. I am hoping it will inspire me to read more backlist as well!
All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
I read and fell in love with The Thirteenth Tale in 2016, the year before I started blogging. The book was actually first published ten years earlier, in 2006. I distinctly remember how this book made me feel and it made me fall in love with Gothic fiction and books about books. I especially loved that there was a fantasy element to this story. There is so much to love in this one and, like the synopsis says, it is a love letter to reading.
It is not often that I want to reread books, but sitting here thinking about all the reason I loved The Thirteenth Tale makes me want to drop everything and pick it up. I should probably read Diane Setterfield’s latest book, Once Upon a River, first. I have had it since it came out in 2018 and just know I am going to love it!
If you are looking to get into Gothic fiction or you are curious about the genre, I think The Thirteenth Tale is the perfect place to start. It’s a must read for anyone who enjoys mysterious and atmospheric settings.