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Topic: Discussion for The Thirteenth Tale

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Subject: Discussion for The Thirteenth Tale
Date Posted: 2/15/2013 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
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Again I'm not finished with the book on discussion day. I don't know when I'm gonna get over this slump but hopefully it will be soon. I'm going to sit down and try to get it finished tonight though. This discussion should last us a while. I've found about twelve or thirteen published questions as well as a few of my own. Anyway I think we should start off with initial impressions of the book. Did you like it or dislike it? What about it did you like or dislike about it? Would you recommend it to friends?

Thus far I've found it to be a good book. Nothing is surprising yet but it's hard for me not to be a couple of steps ahead of the book most of the time.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/15/2013 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I loved it. I found it relatively original considering there is nothing original anymore. It was different enough anyway. The Auralious  (sp?) story line was probably the most predictable for me. The only spot it started to get slow was with the nanny's diary because the writing was much less elegant. It was writen in the nanny's voice and not nearly as good as the style of the rest of the book and went on a bit too long. That was the only part I started drifting away though. I think she managed to convey the pain and regret in the situation very well, and I felt bad for people who probably didn't deserve to be pitied.

This is where reading the kindle version is a pain, it's too difficult to go back and check things. I can't remember the name of the guy at the house. Is Auralious right? That doesn't sound right.

Date Posted: 2/15/2013 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
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Barb, your off only by one letter....Aurelius.  And I'm reading about him (and Mrs. Love) now.  I hope to finish it tonight.

Date Posted: 2/16/2013 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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I enjoyed it a lot.  The storyline was interesting and although it started a little slow, quickly gained my interest and by the end I couldn't put it down.

Date Posted: 2/18/2013 1:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
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Books play an important role in The Thirteenth Tale. Discuss Margaret and Miss Winter's relationships to books and stories. Could you relate with them? What is your relationship to books? Do you agree with Miss Winter that stories can reveal truth better than simply stating it?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/18/2013 2:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I think stories can give you a better understanding of why things are than just telling the fact. If you outlined this story with just the facts they sound like a group of horrible people but when you know the whole story you know most of them did the best the could with the options they had. As far as the books mentioned I think they may have over-mentioned a couple books and they weren't the kind of books I enjoy (although I know the basic stories of some of them and have seen some of the movies) so it didn't add too much for me. I know books like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have more going on in them than just romance but they always seem to fall into the silly romance story category when I see them referenced. I guessed based on the kind of people who usually enjoy them. So if a character likes to read them it makes me think of them as a little more superficial, maybe not as deep. Stereotype, I know, but that's what happens.

My s-i-l has a masters degree and is a nurse practitioner, a very intellectually driven and science-based person. She likes nothing more than to get lost in a fluffy, dumb romance book to relax. She's read 50 Shades Of Grey several times. I get how people with stressful jobs or lives in which they make a lot of important decisions like to unwind with things that don't ask them to think. But still my first reaction when I hear someone likes to read romances is "Oh you poor thing. Did you have to wear the helmet long?" :) I just can't help it. I have always, even when I had a normal life with daily intellectual challenges, sought out books that had deeper meaning. I have read some fluff, especially as a teen when I really got into dragons for awhile, but I want to be challenged now. I want a book to make me think. I want them to be smarter than I am. What I read most now are complex mysteries, memoirs and non-fiction. I wan't to either learn something about how other people work, learn something in general, or be told a story with plenty of twists and turns. I think my current relationship with books would be as a student. I want them to be my teachers. I do have a lack of intellectual stimulation in my life currently and books are one way to fill it. It's not so much that I have anything against fluffy books it's just there are so many other things I want to read first. Book groups and reading challenges have helped pull me out of my comfort zone with some of the choices and that's a good thing. Everyone should diversify once in awhile.

Date Posted: 2/18/2013 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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Spoiler alert for Chris if you haven't finished the book yet.

The mention of Jane Eyre throughout the book was a clue to the mystery, although I didn't recognize it until Margaret did.  In the early part of Jane Eyre, she is orphaned and sent to live with a relative, where only a servant is kind to her.  This mirrors Miss Winter's early life as she struggled to survive, and only through the kindness of the gardener and housekeeper was she able to do so. 

I can certainly relate to a love of books.  Books are an escape, an adventure, a place to dream, a path to learning, an analysis of the world in all its aspects. 

I do agree that a story gives meaning behind the facts, and therefore will reveal the whole truth beyond just the facts.

I am rarely surprised by the ending of a novel, but this one gave me more than one!!



Last Edited on: 2/18/13 8:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2013 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
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I read for enjoyment, usually in the evening instead of watching TV.  I love looking for quotable sentences and I savor the prose.  It is a bonus to me if I happen to learn something along the way.

Margaret had a wonderful and caring father, but no living siblings and a unloving mother.  Miss Winters had the two elderly care givers that did the best they could, but had no one to share her thoughts with.  Both were isolated.  Books were their companions and advisers.  Treasured books like JANE EYRE were "family."

Yes, stories can reveal truth better than simply stating facts.  I agree with Barb, some of the characters in THE THIRTEENTH TALE were horrible people, we may not be able to justify their brutal actions, but through the story we can better understand why.



Last Edited on: 2/19/13 4:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/20/2013 3:13 PM ET
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The two houses in The Thirteenth Tale--Angelfield and Miss Winter's estate--are prominent in the story. How do the houses reflect the characters who live in them? What do you think they represent?

Date Posted: 2/20/2013 5:57 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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The obvious answer about what they represent would be the two aspects of Miss Winter's life, first at Angelfield now a derelict as she was in her childhood, then her life at the estate with the affluence she came to know.

I am sure there is a deeper connection with the characters and where they live, just need to think about that for a bit.

Date Posted: 2/21/2013 2:51 PM ET
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Why do you think Margaret obeyed Miss Winter's summons?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/21/2013 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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Angelfield was a malfunctioning house full of malfunctioning people, they were both falling apart together. I didn't notice too much unusual stuff about Miss Winter's estate except for the whole place being somewhat soundproofed (I never did see a reason behind that) and the contrast of her barren bedroom with the rest of the house (which I also don't think ever got an explanation). You could say a stark bedroom in an ornate house could symbolize a person with no "soul", all outside glitz and no real person in there, but I don't think that was true of the character.

Which summons is that Chris?



Last Edited on: 2/21/13 3:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/21/2013 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
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The houses reflected the characters who lived in them, in that they were isolated and all had secrets.  Both houses were gloomy mansions situated in the English countryside.  The main characters were isolated from the world except for the people that served them.

In reading this novel, I was trying to figure out the mystery and didn't think too much about the symbolism........I too need to think about it a little more.

Date Posted: 2/24/2013 12:30 AM ET
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Miss Winter asks Margaret if she would like to hear a ghost story. Who are the ghosts in the story? In what ways are different characters haunted (Margaret, Miss Winter, Aurelius)?

Subject: SPOILER ALERT!!!
Date Posted: 2/24/2013 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
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The main ghost is Miss Winter herself in her childhood.  She is haunted by her past.

The most interesting haunting is of Margaret, in her own mind.  She is haunted by the absence of her twin.  Such an interesting twist that she was a conjoined twin.  That actually seemed to make some sense in her feeling that something was lost.

 

Date Posted: 2/25/2013 4:47 PM ET
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Why do you think Margaret's sister's death affected her so profoundly? Why do you think she was able to move beyond it at the end of the novel?

Date Posted: 2/25/2013 6:10 PM ET
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I think it was because she was a conjoined twin, it was like she lost a part of herself in the separation surgery.  It did seem that she was able to move past it by the end of the novel.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/26/2013 3:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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Sorry, I'm just not thinking of anything intereresting or relevant to say at the moment. I think my brain is broken surprise It must have been that stupid Yiddish book, it annoyed me into a brain coma.

Date Posted: 2/27/2013 8:53 PM ET
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After Mrs. Dunne and John Digence die, Miss Winter says "the girl in the mist" emerges. Did you believe that Adeline had matured? If not, did you suspect the true identity of the character?

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 2/28/2013 4:37 PM ET
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Hmmm, I don't remembert that part. I didn't suspect the real story at any point though, I though that probably Ms Winter was one of the twins who just became functional somehow and she was just telling the story from the third person to detach herself. I never imagined a third girl. I thought maybe Adeline had a breakthrough or something and that was really the other twin in the room, I didn't think too much about it though because the book moved fast enough to keep me from doing a lot of speculation. I usually only do that when it starts getting dull but this one never did. Not for very long anyway, the nanny diary was the only slow part for me.

Date Posted: 2/28/2013 5:52 PM ET
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I so agree, Barb, that nanny diary was a snoozer.  And I don't see that it added anything substantial to the story.

Date Posted: 3/1/2013 1:45 AM ET
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When did you first suspect Miss Winter's true identity? Were you surprised? Looking back, what clues did she give you?

(I've obviously not finished this book but I think I'm out of my reading slump now, so I'm going to try to get it done. I decided to go back and read the closest thing I had to the last book I read and enjoyed which was the first book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. With that in mind I read the second book in that series, finished it in one night and I almost never do that.)

Date Posted: 3/1/2013 10:50 AM ET
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I didn't suspect until the end.  The story was so compelling that I got caught up in it and didn't even try to figure it out ahead.  It is rare that a book so captures my attention that I don't want to think, and let myself be led by the author.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 3/1/2013 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I think my last answer covers this question, and l feel the same as Carole. If I enjoy the story I don't consiously try to figure it out. I'm much happier with books that I can't or am not compelled to work out ahead of time.

Date Posted: 3/3/2013 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
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Do you think Adeline or Emmeline was saved from the fire?

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