audio book (13 cassettes: 15 hrs, 45 min)
*** The Story ***
Margaret Lea, reclusive daughter of an antique book dealer, is invited to the home of the prolific author Vida Winter. Ms. Winter’s novels are widely read and loved but no one knows anything about her background. Upon arrival, Margaret learns that Ms. Winter is ill and wants to tell her life story to someone before she dies.
The rest of the book alternates between the fascinating story of where Ms. Winter came from and what is going on in the present day as Margaret records her story.
*** What I Liked ***
Oh how I loved this book! The story within a story, the deep love of reading, the strange characters … there is good and evil and everything in between. I’ve seen this referred to as a Gothic novel and I’d have to agree. It just has that *feel* about it, what with a dilapidated old mansion, numerous recluses, and mysterious happenings.
As Nymeth so aptly put it in her review, “It’s no wonder that The Thirteenth Tale is so immensely popular among book bloggers. It truly is a book for book lovers.”
And the narration on the audio book was amazing. There are two narrators, Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner, one for Margaret’s point of view and one for Ms. Winter’s point of view. Between the two of them they conveyed a whole passel of character voices. There was no confusion as to who was speaking at any given time. In fact, their narration really made the book for me.
And I loved the ending. Wait, that’s *not* a spoiler! I’m not talking about the ending of the plot here. What I’m talking about is the way Margaret tells us what happens to all the minor characters at the end of the story. She, like any book lover, always wants to know about the secondary characters in a book; what happened to the maid, the best friend, the old lover, and so on after the story concluded? So she tells us all those things after Ms. Winter’s story concludes. Aah … how I loved that.
*** What I Didn't Like ***
There is just one thing that I didn’t like about this book. And really, this is a very minor thing to gripe about. The rest of the book was so wonderful, creepy and suspenseful and intriguing, that I hate to even bring it up, but I will anyway.
Since this is a spoiler-free review I won’t spell out what it is; those who have read the book should be able to tell what I’m talking about anyway.
There is a part of Margaret’s story that heavily influences who she is. I don’t understand that part. I mean, I understand the facts but I don’t understand why it affects her the way it does. Granted, I have never had that experience but it did seem very foreign to me, almost contrived. For those who know what I’m talking about, did you have the same reaction or does it make complete sense to you?
*** Want More? ***
I have another post coming on Monday about the literary and pop culture connections I found while reading this book – be sure to come back and check it out!
In the meantime you can check out what other bloggers have to say about The Thirteenth Tale: