The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


I loved and reviewed the author’s book:

Once Upon a River Till date, it the most liked review on my blog and every time I read it I can remember the thrill I had felt at reading the book itself.

In this tale as well, it was not the story itself that drew me in, it was the writing. I am not sure if everyone who reads it would say the same but there is something bewitching in the narration. The back flap actually states that it is for the ‘feral reader’ and I have latched on to the word and will be incorporating it somewhere permanent on the blog, I am yet to decide where.

The words ‘Feral reader’ accurately captures the haphazard way I read books, wallow in some and brush past others, working my way through the many that are written every day and the ones that have been written in all the preceding years as well. The main protagonist in the tale is no less ‘feral’. She lives and works in a bookshop which specializes in antiques or hard to find books. She has created a niche at writing biographies of lesser-known dead people and spends the rest of the time reading.

The tale begins with a letter and the way it draws her into a web of stories and lies that have survived through decades. A reclusive author has never revealed her past but she is willing to have it put into words, and they have to be written by Margaret Lea (our leading lady). There is more hidden behind the words as told to Margaret and it is up to her to unravel it all. She gets so caught up in it that it casts a pall over her daily life. There were parts that I wish I had not needed to read and I almost gave up because sometimes when the writing is powerful, no scene is too light to just breeze through. This is the only reason that I have taken a star away from my rating. Through the ups and downs of the story, I spent the same time as Margaret trying to figure out the hidden patterns in the tale and was only partially right. It is meant to be confusing and open to some personal interpretation in parts but mostly you glide along the direction that the writing takes you.

I have already requested the other book by the author but I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves storytelling and all the mysticism that can go with it.


7 thoughts on “The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield”

  1. I also loved this book…such atmosphere! I was glad when you wrote, “meant to be confusing and open to some personal interpretation in parts,” since those of us who discussed this novel at book club found those statements to be so true!

    Liked by 1 person

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