Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Thirteenth Tale

Last week I finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, a book that has received comparisons to the writings of the Bronte sisters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! For me a good fiction book brings me inside its pages so that when I put it down, I am a bit disoriented as to where I am after being so absorbed in the story. Also, a great book by my definition brings reflection. The Thirteenth Tale would definitely qualify on these points. I am no literary critic, but will share some reflections on this intriguing tale.

The story revolves around two women and their stories. Vida Winter is a world famous British author who has never revealed her true personal story, always chooses to tell a story when interviewed over the years. As she is growing older and failing in her health, she chooses an obscure biographer named Margaret Lea to pen her biography. Margaret lives and works in a small, bookstore specializing in old books, run by her father. Margaret is an avid, passionate reader, living a rather isolated existence with only her father and books to keep her company. I will not go into any more details--you need to read it for yourself! What follows, though, is the story of the growth of Vida and Margaret's relationship as Vida shares her haunting, often disturbing story. Both women have pasts they confront and truths they finally acknowledge.

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a good story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.
--Vida Winter

"The Thirteenth Tale" came to represent to me Vida's truth--her true story. As stated in the quote above, Vida avoided the painful truth and chose instead to live in a world of stories that could be fashioned as she wished. The reality of this path is she could not change the truth of her past, it remained the same and was always with her. Crafted personal stories can bring a soothing comfort in the midst of pain, which may be beneficial at times. As a substitute for the truth, though, stories do not suffice.

This book made me think, "What will be my thirteenth tale, my true story?" At the end of my life, how will my story read? Am I living in truth, embracing my past, present, and future in the light of God's sovereignty in my life? I am striving to live in truth and without regrets. I pray that my thirteenth tale will be one of joy, in the struggles, as well as the blessings.

This book also reminded me of the deep pain that is suffered by so many people and how that scars and impacts their lives. I felt deeply convicted that I do not seek to minister to those people as I believe I am called to do. As Christians, we must not shrink from the ugliness that is in our world, but try to shine the healing light of Christ in those very difficult situations.

17 comments:

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

I might have to add this to my wish list! :) Thanks for the review.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

I've seen so many good reviews of this book in the last several months. I didn't think it was one I wanted to read, but I'm about to be convinced otherwise. I'll check for it at my library soon, thanks for the wonderful review!

Alicia said...

You've written a compelling review. I too will be hitting the library database next.

Lauren S. said...

I just finished this book about two weeks ago. I almost stopped in the beginning because it seemed so dark, but I am glad I kept going. I couldn't stop thinking about the characters for days after I finished. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Loraena said...

I love the Brontes - it's interesting that this author is compated to them - I will definitely be adding this to my list of wanna-reads. =) Thanks for sharing.

Jane said...

Sounds like a really good read. I love that you shared with us the questions it caused you to think about, such important, pertinent questions which give me cause to think as well. Thanks Kelly

Deidre said...

Thanks for reviewing. I'm going to add this to my 'waiting to read' list. Sounds great.

Chris said...

I always enjoy a good book review. Thanks Kelly!

Susie said...

Excellent post. I would love to pick of a copy of this one. By the way, I think if your life's story is anything like your blog, it is going to read beautifully.

Kim said...

Great review! I don't read a lot of fiction,but may have to read this after Carried Home!

Kim

Susanne said...

I've seen the title of this book tossed around on different sites. Great review! I'll have to add it to the list!

Elise said...

I think I will be adding this book to my library list - it looks wonderful!
Your blog is a treat - I look forward to *getting to know you better*!

Dianne said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one also. Thanks for the positive review but at the same time, not spoiling it for me!

Carrie said...

Our online bookclub (Bookfest) read this book in January. I REALLY enjoyed it. Haunting, yes, but not vividly disgusting (and it could have been). I thought it was great. The more time that passes since my reading of it, the more I enjoy it.


http://bookfest2006.blogspot.com/2007/01/thirteenth-tale-by-diane-setterfield.html

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed reading your review, Kelly! I loved this book. It made my list of top five favorite books from last year.

Candy said...

Hi,
Just wanted to pop in and say Hi. Ive been enjoying your blog,


Candy

Lisa writes... said...

I too read The Thirteenth Tale and I am always interested in others' opinions and impressions. Thanks for the thoughtful review.