I know I promised a review of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, but I have been putting it off. Here's why:
The Pfeiffer Student Book Club met for the first time back in September. I was a little apprehensive about it because I wondered just how many college students would be interested in a book club. So, of course I used bribery and offered free pizza! To my surprise, we had 12 people in attendance and about five more who indicated that they wanted to come but had class or other obligations. During that first meeting, there was a great deal of energy. The students chose a great book for the first read -- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Everything went great!
Our second meeting was October 24 (the students decided to keep the meetings on the 4th Wednesday at noon), and one student showed up! I couldn't believe it. After waiting about 10 minutes for stragglers who never came, Cindy (a library staff member), the student and I ended up having a really good discussion about the book. The student had read the book in one sitting and loved it. After the initial disappointment, I decided that as long as one person showed up, I would keep doing it. Over the course of the next few days, several students came by or e-mailed to tell me that they hadn't come for one reason or another but that they read the book and was still interested in the book club. So, I have quit pouting, and here is a brief review.
The Thirteenth Tale fits nicely into the Gothic tradition and was a perfect choice for October. Miss Vida Winter is a reclusive author who has given numerous interviews throughout her career. However, she is not very forthcoming with personal information. In fact, she has given nineteen different accounts of her life. Now, Ms. Winter is dying and wants to tell her story. She chooses Margaret Lea, a young biographer and the daughter of a rare book dealer. She summons Margaret to her estate and begins by asking her if she wants to hear a ghost story. Margaret is soon drawn into the strange world of the Angelfield family complete with ghosts, spooky estates, tragic fires, murder and suicide. Ms. Winter and Margaret have a few things in common -- they are both twins, which plays a huge part in the story, and they both live in a world of books. As Ms. Winter weaves her ghost story, Margaret must face her own ghosts. The mystery comes together in the end in a very unexpected way. This book was a joy to read. The language is absolutely beautiful. She evokes the settings so vividly that you really are drawn into this world. It's hard to believe that it's a first novel.