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Adaptogenia by Wayne Wightman personal collection
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Sooner or Later or Never Never by Gary Jennings personal collection
Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss bookcrossing
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The Thirteenth Tale: 08/28/09

"'Once upon a time there were twins—'" (p. 48) begins Vida Winter's thirteenth tale. It's also the story of her life but it's up to Margaret Lea, a young biographer obsessed with twins to sort out the truth behind her tale.

The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield is about family secrets and the ways which those secrets make and break people. The book has many different layers of story telling, from the protagonists own dark secrets to her employer's secrets which are slowly revealed in flashback and dialogue.

Margaret Lea who works in her father's bookshop reluctantly goes to Yorkshire on the request of the reclusive bestselling author Vida Winter. From there the novel unfolds to a reveal the dark history of the Angelfield family, and especially the almost feral twin girls Adeline and Emmeline.

Although the theme of the magical powers of twins comes close to being overwrought, I found The Thirteenth Tale a compelling page turner. The Angelfield family history is steeped in Gothic horror motifs. The book was so good that I ended up staying up all night (something I never do) to finish it.

Similar books I recommend:

<Comments (10)

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Comment #1: Friday, August, 28, 2009 at 14:54:43


I loved The Thirteenth Tale. You described it almost perfectly. I remember being up all night reading this one, too!

I'm so glad, too, that you listed The Secret of Lost Things as a similar read. I had the same feeling, although I wouldn't say it's very gothic. I'm not sure what the similarity was. Perhaps just in the writing style or tone.

The Haunting of Hill House didn't seem very similar to me. I'm not sure why. I thought it was an excellent read, though.

Will definitely have to read the others you recommend soon!

Comment #2: Monday, August 31, 2009 at 18:34:45


Secret of Lost Things deals with two American authors, one who wrote Gothic romances. I though the Hawthorne influence bled into the way the bookstore was described. I put The Haunting of Hill House on the list for its atmospheric feel. All the books I listed have very strong emotional ties to structures: homes, manors and bookstores.

Comment #3: Friday, August, 28, 2009 at 16:04:40


I couldn't put it down, either. I hadn't been so engrossed in a book in a long time. I especially enjoyed that the main character was also a book-lover!

Comment #4: Monday, August 31, 2009 at 18:38:15


Margaret's love of books was certainly a hook for me too.

Comment #5: Saturday, August, 29, 2009 at 13:09:34


That sounds like a tantalizing read. Will definitely have to add to my wishlist.

Comment #6: Monday, August 31, 2009 at 18:40:54


It's a book best read at night, under the covers with a flashlight.

Comment #7: Tuesday, September, 1, 2009 at 19:34:33


What a wonderful cover!

Thanks for being part of 9 for '09 Challenge.

Comment #8: Monday, September 7, 2009 at 20:37:44


Thank you for hosting it. This book is my last for your challenge. I'm finished!

Comment #9: Wednesday, September, 9, 2009 at 05:27:12


I still haven't read this. Maybe this year for the RIP challenge I will finally get around to it.

Comment #10: Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 19:49:32


It would be perfect for the RIP challenge.

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