Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale:a lucky find for fall reading

The Thirteenth Tale of this novel's title is a long sort after missing short story from a collection by mysterious and beloved author Vida Winter. Miss Winter has made it a habit to give different versions of her past to inquiring members of the press
over the years but now she has decided to have her true story told before her death.

Enter Margaret Lea,who works with her father in an antiquarian bookstore and has never read any of Vida's books,preferring 19 century literature to modern works. She
has dabbled in writing biographies academically,which catches Miss Winter's eye and causes Vida to ask Margaret to be her official biographer. Margaret is reluctant at first(given Vida's former false versions)but is hooked by the mention of twins,which prompts her to agree to work on the book,provided that she is given time to prove certain facts of Miss Winter's story.

Margaret's interest in twins comes from her childhood discovery of a death certificate for her own twin sister,who died in infancy. Her parents kept this a secret from her,which helped to explain why Margaret's mother is so emotionally distant. As Miss Winter's tale unfolds of her eccentric family,the Angelfields,with it's nods to such gothic classics as Jane Eyre,Rebecca and The Turning of the Screw,the reader is drawn into an intricate web of narrative wonder that keeps you turning page after page after page.

Diane Setterfield is a first time novelist who clearly adores the old school dramatic saga style of writing that would make a lesser author stumble and trip over the neccessary red herrings and atmospheric trappings of such a story. Instead,she makes it all seem as natural as breathing. Not to mention that she gives us a plot twist that should have M.Night Shyamalan chomping at the bit to obtain the film rights to this clever and caring book about lost souls who find a way to either reconnect or make peace with the past.

The Thirteenth Tale is due in stores on September 12(please click the title link for more info)and it would be a crying shame to let this book pass you on by. Pre-order it where ever you can and keep it in mind when your reading group comes back from summer vacation. It's a perfect book to curl up with on those chilly autumn nights that'll bring some added spark to the season.

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