Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

I just finished a most remarkable book. Diane Setterfield's The Thirteeth Tale is simply a masterpiece. Published in 2006, it has the feel of a book from long ago -- beautifully written with a academic yet heartwrenching eye for detail. A first person narrator, who unravels a secret from her own past, is called to Yorkshire to write the biography of one of English's most prolific novelists. The story is strange, haunting, full of twists and turns, and even as the story unfolds, a body is discovered in the old burnt-out shell of the novelist's former home. Engaging the ideas of truth and trust, of passion and loss, of twinness and fame, this novel twists and turns its plot around and back into itself beautifully.

Highly readable, wonderfully mysterious, and heartwrenching in so many ways (I hate to reuse "heartwrenching" but it describes the book so well!), The Thirteenth Tale is a masterpiece that definitely deserved its rank on the New York Times Bestseller's List. For three months, I waited for this book in our county library queue, and this book was one of the few well worth the long wait. I found myself in tears several times as I read, so moving the characters were, their stories entertwining with sadness yet hope.

It's one of the few modern novels I highly, highly recommend.

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