Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

Second paragraph of third chapter:
But I resolved to put the words and the letter out of my head.
I don't know how this ended up on my Amazon wishlist; but you can get it for a penny plus postage. Clearly it did very well when first published in 2006 and then had a successful TV movie in 2013 (in which the dodgy brother Charlie is played by Michael Jibson, who I recently saw on stage in Hamilton). But this had all completely passed me by. I guess, as often happens, someone recommended it to me on Facebook, or maybe in the pub, and I lost whatever record I had of that conversation after adding it to my Amazon list in November 2014.

Anyway. It's a weird early 21st-century attempt at writing a Gothic novel where the narrator and the famous old writer whose biography she is writing share a similar deeply hidden family secret. It takes 400 pages to work through the various permutations of mysterious deaths, disappearances and long-lost children; I thought it was competently enough executed, even if one of the Big Reveals stretched my willing suspension of disbelief, and I very much appreciated the love of books and literature that the two main characters shared, but I did wonder if we really need to prove that you can write a Gothic novel this century (with of course large chunks set in the last century as we go through the backstory). There are some pretty nice descriptive parts as well. So, a book that I enjoyed reading even if it wasn't the gosh-wow experience that others appear to have had.
Tags: bookblog 2018

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