Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

I'm currently sequestered upstairs, breathing in the clean fresh air that our top floor has to offer. Jeff is downstairs, painting an elaborate system of built-in drawers and bookcases in our living room, inhaling enough toxic fumes for the two (almost three) of us. We don' t have a tv upstairs and this whole sequestering thing has become a common affair lately while Jeff completes layer after layer of primer and cream paint. This means much book reading. My most recent conquest was The Thirteenth Tale and I loved it.

When I was at Half Price Books last week I almost walked right by the bargain table. The truth is - I judge the bargain table. Part of me assumes that any book that's selling for that cheap must be lame and I usually walk on by. But this time, a stack of The Thirteenth Tale books caught my eye and sparked a memory of reading a good review for this book somewhere - was it Mari's site? Anyways, it was only a dollar! This seemed like a low risk decision, so I bought it. And let's just say that I was pleased with my ROI. This book is creepy and addictive and I a little bit loved it.

The story is about Vida Winter, an aging but very famous fiction writer in England. She's notorious for the mystery that surrounds her personal life - no reporter has ever been able to get the truth out of her. She tells every interviewer a different story about her life, none are true. But now she's old and sick and for one reason or another has chosen Margaret Lea to tell her story to. Margaret is the lonely adult daughter of an antique book seller, an avid reader and author of a few informal biographies. And PS - she also has a bit of secret past herself. Anyways, Margaret goes to stay with the crusty author and Vida tells her real story. And her story is creeepy and mysterious (and there are twins!) and I couldn't put it down. It's not Tana-French-style-creepy-genius, and there was a second where I sniffed a bit of Phillipa-Gregory-style-incest, but it was short lived and the book is still worthy. If you've read and enjoyed Nicholas Christopher (A Trip To the Stars is still one of my favs), I'd say you'd probably appreciate this book as well. No romance (sigh) but give it a try.


Amanda said...

You know, I read this book back when it first came out. I checked it out from the library. But I recently came across a copy at a book sale and picked it up. I'm going to re-read it. And I can't believe you mentioned A Trip to the Stars!!! It's one of my all-time favorites too!

Jeane said...

I thought this book was so cool. And I did get the hint of incest, too, it almost made me stop reading- I'm glad the story didn't go further that way!

raych said...

I am ALSO a judger-of-bargain-tables! AND a judger of this book, because I remember some people not being too impressed with it when it came out, and I have it out from the library and was ALMOST going to return it unread, but now I will read it! I will read it good!!!

Kristin said...

Weird! My philosophy professor, Hud Hudson, was reading this book at the exact same time as you and HE posted about it on HIS book blog! And he chose it for the same reason....because of the cover. Isn't that totally weird? Do you think you and Hud Hudson are psychically connected?

You can read what he wrote about it:

Care said...

This book is one of those that you think while reading that it is awesome!!!! and then promptly forget what it was about 6 months later. OR am I too harsh. I mean I liked it, but... oh well.