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The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield My mother gave me this book after having been on a wild-goose chase for a different book (of which she could not recall the title). This one was recommended to her by the book store clerk instead. This seems to happen a lot to my mom. She read it, and then gave it to me... I promptly shelved it and thought no more of it for months.

My mother likes to give somewhat sketchy details of what books are about, and when I finally picked this up to read it, I recall thinking that this was some sort of modern day gothic retelling of a fairy-tale.

Oh, how wrong I was. Although, that aspect is there too, minimally, but the book is about so much more.

I was instantly engrossed in the story. A little surprised at the narration being mainly provided by someone whom I thought of as a "major secondary character". The story is, after all, about Vida Winter. Margaret Lea has similarities to her story, but she is not our main focus.

There were several different types of narrative used: Margaret, who is recording the story and also providing all of the surrounding information.
The story being unearthed is told by Vida in differing styles as her story progresses and we learn more and more about her. These narrative styles worked well together, even without notice that we were shifting between them.
I was struck by the author's clear love of language, reading and words. I found myself a little envious of Margaret for her complete freedom when it came to childhood reading material, and then endless source of said reading material, which of course is her father's bookshop. Oh, how I would have LOVED to grow up in such a place!

Anyway, I'm getting off track. (You'll have to forgive me- its much past my bedtime!)

I was engrossed. I couldn't put it down, and when I had to, I found myself wondering about it. I had to know what happened. Nothing really was as it seemed at first look, and the story seemed shifty, as if seen through murky water that is slowly clearing, finally revealing what is really at the bottom of the pool.

And finally, I thought I had it figured out... fortunately, I was mistaken. I really dislike figuring out a mystery before I am meant to. Thankfully, this book was not one of those.

The relationships portrayed were intimate and secretive and complicated. They were also immensely loyal. The progression of the character's stories, as there are several interwoven together, were compelling, and the conclusion satisfying.

There were only two minor issues that I had with the book. The first was that Jane Eyre was referred to at least 8 times... After that I stopped counting. I love Jane Eyre, don't get me wrong, but this was a bit much.
The other issue that I had was with Moira. Everything else realistically fit together, but that one scene didn't. I won't elaborate further and ruin it for anyone, but thought I would mention it.

Those things were not enough to make me dislike the book. I immensely enjoyed it, truth be told. ;)