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A Reader of Fictions: The Secrets of the House - Jane Eyre Musical

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Secrets of the House - Jane Eyre Musical

The Thirteenth Tale

Author: Diane Setterfield
Pages: 406
Publisher: Atria Books

Brief Summary:
Margaret Lea works at her father's antiquarian bookshop and writes biographies of lesser known personages for fun. Otherwise, she spends most of her time journeying through the written world, particularly classics. One day, she receives a summons from famous, contemporary author, Vida Winter. Apparently, she has been selected to write the biography of the reclusive storyteller, who has never once told the truth of her past. Margaret is skeptical at first, but as the story begins, the story of twins, unfolds, she cannot resist being drawn into the drama.

Review:
I first read The Thirteenth Tale during my sophomore year in college. A good friend recommended it and, though busy with schoolwork (question mark?) I devoured the novel. From the first page, I was absorbed into its pages and the mystery they held. The resolution struck me as a bit unlikely, but I still loved it and purchased a copy when I got the chance.

Upon revisiting the story, I was able to appreciate even more the incredibly beautiful prose of Diane Setterfield. Her language lilts and carries me away in a delightful way. Her writing is both complicated and completely natural, much like the classic authors she frequently references. The storyline was both improved and diminished by my return journey. How? Well, the twist, which is so astounding, I remembered. This also made some of the more long-winded sections drag a bit, although the sections on Vida Winter's past always drew me in. At the same time, being able to really note all of the hints left for the reader let me appreciate the deft way in which the solution to the mystery was woven into the story. The plot seems less implausible with more attention paid to the details.

My only complaint is about the Postscriptum, which I found to be cheesy, overly fanciful and plain pointless. It really irritated me, because I loved the way the story resolved before I read it and then was unhappy with this new ending. Still, epilogues (or postscriptum, should one want to be fancy) have been the bane on the existence of many books (e.g. Crime and Punishment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and will likely continue to be. I, for one, will simply do my best to forget about the second ending. (And, knowing my memory, I shall triumph!)

Book lovers must read this! The early chapters of the novel are a love letter to reading that just made my heart soar with glee. Just make sure you sit down as you enjoy this one, because, as Margaret Lea cautions, "Reading can be dangerous" (4).

"The secrets of the house
Are just beyond these walls
They hide in long-forgotten shadows
Fragments of memories awakened and stirred
By a call my heart has heard"

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