Monday, September 3, 2007

Becky's Review of The Thirteenth Tale

Originally posted on Becky's Book Reviews.

Haunted by the loss of a twin she never knew and wasn't supposed to know about, Margaret Lea, the daughter of an antiques and collectibles bookseller, accepts Vida Winter's strange offer to come stay with her and hear her true story. Ms. Vida Winter is a famous--a world-famous--author. She's known not only for her excellent prose, but for her ability to spin a story--a web of lies--for the journalists and reporters that come round every time a new book is released. There are hundreds of printed stories about Ms. Winter's childhood circulating about. None of them are true. Miss Lea knows this, of course, when she goes. The invitation was so touching though--leaving words that echo down deep inside her--that Margaret just can't say no.

Preparing for her journey, Margaret immerses herself in Winter's novels. Within a matter of days, she has fallen in love with the way this woman tells a story, writes a book, crafts a narrative.

Of course one always hopes for something special when one reads an author one hasn't read before, and Miss Winter's books gave me the same thrill I had when I discovered the Landier diaries, for instance. But it was more than that. I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled. And during this time, these days when I read all day and half the night, when I slept under a counterpane strewn with books, when my sleep was black and dreamless and passed in a flash and I woke to read again--the lost joys of reading returned to me. Miss Winter restored to me the virginal qualities of the novice reader, and then with her stories she ravished me. (32)

The story is a weaving of the past and present. Each day Miss Winter shares a little bit more of her life story. The beginning. The middle. The end. Each night Margaret is haunted not only by her day's work but by the loss of her twin. Her own family secrets. Her own hurts and pains. The story is both Miss Winter's and Margaret's. Secrets. Lies. Broken families. Ghosts. Violence. Loss. Betrayal. Love.

The Thirteenth Tale is an unforgettable read. Enjoyable from cover to cover. It's haunting. It's powerful. It's one-of-a-kind.

1 comment:

Kailana said...

I loved this book...