The missing tale of Vida Winter

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in books they write, they continue to exist. We can rediscover them.”

A sensational book. The setting, the plot, and the characters are a hybrid of Bronte, Austen, Collins and V.C. Andrews. Secrets, twins, murders, incest, abuse, mental illness etc, this book has them all. That being said, I don’t find The Thirteenth Tale is particularly spectacular or amazing. I like it, but that’s about it.

The book starts slow, and this tarnishes my enjoyment of it. However, it gradually pulls me in. I want to know more about the story of Vida; what happen to the inhabitants of Angelfield, and whether she is telling the truth or lie. I have mixed emotions at varying points. Margaret’s angst for her dead sister is boring. Her thoughts that don’t concern Vida also told in unusually long paragraph. I confess I also expect more scary things to happen throughout the story based on the reviews I’ve read, but to my utter disappointment, no such thing happened. The most tragic thing is possibly John’s death but even that is kind told in such brisk manner I have to read twice in order to understand that he’s dead. The ending is weird and too romantic. I sympathized with Vida and on her always being the outsider especially after the deaths of Missus and John. But maybe that’s the reason why she is capable of writing such beautiful stories. Everything has a price is the conclusion I get after finishing this.

I end my review with my favorite quotation:

“I read old novels. The reason is simple: I prefer proper endings. Marriages and deaths, noble sacrifices and miraculous restorations, tragic separations and unhoped-for reunions, greats falls and dreams fulfilled; these, in my view, constitute an ending worth the wait. They should come after adventures, perils, dangers and dilemmas, and wind everything up nice and neatly. Endings like this are to be found more commonly in old novels than new ones, so I read old novels.”