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11/14/2007
The Thirteenth Tale
Can you keep a secret?

I can't. I've never been able to keep secrets well. When I buy T a Christmas or birthday present that I know he'll love, I'm always tempted to give it to him right away. Why wait? Same with the kids. If something big happens in my life, I have to share it. In some ways sharing a secret can make it more real. You can discuss that oh so important happening, tidbit, revelation, or gossip with someone else. But, of course, once you tell someone else it's no longer a secret, is it?

I recently joined Mother Talk because, well, who wouldn't want free books? All I have to do is read them and tell y'all what I think. Well, it's a rough job but someone has to do it.

For my first review, I read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It's a gothic-esque novel set in the modern day. Our protagonist, Margaret, is a biographer treading water through life and living through books in the antiquarian book store she runs with her father. A notorious novelist, Vida Winter, asks Margaret to write her story, an unexpected coup because of Ms. Winter's mysterious past. Two stories, and many secrets unfold throughout the course of the book, Ms. Winter's and Margaret's.

Although I'm not normally a fan of the Gothic novel, there are a few classics of the genre that I absolutely love, one of those being Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre, the novel, appears over and over throughout The Thirteenth Tale as do many not-so-subtle allusions to the Bronte classic, along with a hint of Wuthering Heights. A few things about the story made me crazy, including the fact that I was whacked over the head with Jane Eyre at every turn. The other is the big plot twist that I can't tell you unless I spoil the story. I can't decide if I'm annoyed because I don't think it's believable or annoyed because I wasn't really expecting it.

The book did, however, make me wonder if I could keep a real secret. I mean a secret that changes lives, not simply the fact that I ate the last oatmeal cream pie in the cabinet. I don't think that I could. At least not the sort of secret that's hidden in The Thirteenth Tale. So much of what happens to us defines us. By keeping it a secret, aren't we denying who we are?

Well, if anything, I hope I've at least piqued your curiosity about the big secret in The Thirteenth Tale.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Sunshine said...

If it would affect someone's life, I could keep the secret. As long as keeping the secret doesn't hurt somebody. Better to protect somebody as long as the lack of disclosure doesn't hurt anyone else in the process.
But I really want to read this book now too!

Blogger Lady M said...

Sounds like an interesting book!

I've had to keep a secret that I didn't feel was mine to share. Definitely difficult.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I got that book as a gift hmm last Christmas I think.

I varied in my opinion of it. Parts were well done but at the end...I couldn't' like it.

Could I keep a secret? Yes. I can. Do I always? No.

The difference is how I feel about it. If I am excited about it in some way and want to tell,I'll find an opportunity or rationalization. If I don't, lips sealed shut. If it's another person's story? Super glued shut. Usually.

Julie
Using My Words

Anonymous Julie said...

I love secrets. Christmas present-type presents, especially. I love keeping and I love trying to guess other people's. I get positively squirmy with joy when there's a secret for me to figure out.

Blogger Binky said...

The book idea floating around in my head has a gothic feel to it, so I'm always looking for suggestions of other modern-day gothic novels to read. Thanks for bringing this book to our attention!

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I tried to get this book on MotherTalk but the tour was closed...if you ever lend out books, I'd love to borrow it! Sounds very cool.

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