Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thirteen Tales

When I planned my reading list awhile back (yes, I plan my reading lists, *sigh*), I chose my reading order based on books that would evoke certain emotions and that would flow easily into each other. Awhile back I was reading American-Jewish fiction, then it was fiction related to World War II, then I moved into my autumn-reading-by-the-fire-list. I wanted to eventually work my way to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, so I went by way of The Historian and The Thirteenth Tale. I planned on reading Jane Eyre after that, but had no idea how appropriate it would be since Jane Eyre features very heavily in the imagination of the narrator of The Thirteenth Tale.

I very much enjoyed reading The Thirteenth Tale, but I suspect, like The Historian, it is aimed at a certain kind of reader: the reading-obsessed bibliophile. It had an eccentric writer and an intriguing mystery at the heart of it. However, it also had a silly narrator. She is very much a quiet, readerly, academic type--like the narrator in The Historian--but she takes it to a whole new level. She's uncomfortable being around people, which isn't strange in and of itself, but she's even uncomfortable with her father, the only real relationship in her life. What's more, she writes a lot about twinness, and I have no knowledge of the subject, so I often found myself wondering if she weren't exaggerating the relationship of twins, just a bit. I know the relationship between twins is different than that of regular siblings, but some of the ideas she posited seemed over the top. Of course, Setterfield uses these oddities to develop the narrator and she grows at the end of the story because of them. In summary, I like how Setterfield wrapped it all up, and I would highly recommend reading it. It's more fast-paced than The Historian, and half as long, so those of you who didn't like that book may like this one. Also, there is a fabulous moment when the doctor diagnoses her with reading too many fanciful books and prescribes Sherlock Holmes as the antidote. Classic.

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Coincidentally I've just finished reading the Thirteenth Tale also - and I have to agree I think her sense of loss in regards to her twin sister was WAY overdone.... I enjoyed the book but a lot of it did seem ..a bit...naively melodramatic or something? lot of the time I just felt....unconvinced...and a bit unmoved as a result.

Lane said...

This is on my TBR pile. I almost read it last week but opted for Thousand Splendid Suns instead (wonderful). Hhmm, don't know whether to go for it next or not?

Kristen said...

Thanks for the review, Ang. I'm still interested in reading it. If I could borrow it from you at Christmas, that would be excellent.

I'm reading Gentlemen and Players. Only 100 pages in, but I'm enjoying it--I think you would really like it, too. Add it to your list. ;-)

Any decision made this weekend?...

Angie said...

Rebecca, how funny! Great minds think alike, eh? It was an enjoyable mystery, at least.

Lane, I have had The Kite Runner on my tbr pile for over a year (!) and even lent it to a friend, but as soon as I read that and TSS comes out in paperback, it'll be on my list! I recommend reading this book. It's a good read, just as Rebecca said, a little melodramatic.

Kristen, definitely still read it. I enjoyed it and wanted to keep turning the pages, I just noticed these things more than I do with an exceptional book. You'll have a little borrow pile waiting for you...
I hadn't heard of that book before you mentioned it, but it does look interesting. My list is going to totter one of these days!
Decisions? Eh, probably yes, but I've been waffling all week. *sigh*