Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth TaleWhat’s it about?

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline.

But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…
Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?
As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…

My thoughts

This was our book club choice for our March read and I was interested and excited to read. I’d seen the BBC adaptation last year so had a vague recollection of the plot and the ending. However, this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book which I was really pleased about.

In a nutshell Margaret is hired by the famous succesful novelist Vida Winter to write her biography and as recounts the story of her childhood to Margaret we’re taken back 60 or so years to learn the secrets of Angelfield.

I found myself immediately drawn into Margaret’s story and her life in her father’s book shop.

“I ran my fingertips along the spines, like a pianist along his keyboard”

Others in the group had found the start a little slow because of all the book shop narrative but I loved it. Margaret has a comforting relationship with her father and an extremely strained one with her mother which makes for interesting reading and adds to her character’s depth and development which you don’t get with the BBC drama. We learn a lot more about Margaret in the book – that’s why they tend to be better! ๐Ÿ™‚

I found the writing style fascinating; it’s beautifully written, gothic and reminiscent of Jane Eyre. Although, there isn’t anything to date the novel when it’s in the present tense, although there’s no mention of email, computers or mobile phones I think it’s set around the early nineties.

With hindsight the hints and clues are there to the secrets of Angelfield and I noticed these as I knew how it would turn out but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have picked up on them. They’re very subtley interwoven.

Overall, this is a tightly woven novel of family secrets that I can’t recommend enough. If you liked Jane Eyre or Rebecca this is perfect for you. But even if you don’t, this is a great mystery read with passages about books all book lovers will love and relate too!

“Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you?”

13th_tale_600Get the book Paperback | Kindle

Connect with the author Diane Setterfield

Website | Goodreads

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