It has been quite a while since I have read a book that left me craving for more - not that this story is incomplete, I just didn't want it to end. Although the story circles around death and dying, I found the author's words breathing life in every aspect she touched. Her style of writing was very soothing to me and while there was a mystery abounding, I was never scared.
I see the two main characters on a journey: Vita, coming to the end of her life, cleansing herself of the spirit she was and Margaret coming out of a self-imposed "death" stemming from the spirit she carried around and stepping into a new life.
I am making room on my favorite book shelf for this one nestled between Rebecca/Mrs.de Winter and Kane & Abel and a hop, skip and jump from Gone with the Wind, The Other Boleyn Girl, and The Widow of the South.
Fabulous book! A mystery from the past is unveiled in little pieces throughout the book, making it extremely difficult to put the book down. It really is better to take your time reading the book, not because it is hard to follow, but because the anticipation is part of the enjoyment. The characters are very unique and the scenes are vividly described. The book really came alive in my mind. It wouldn't surprise me to see this as a movie one day. I am definitely going to remember this author's name and look forward to whatever she writes next.
Once I started reading I was very bored. I told myself to atleast give it a hundred pages. First night I read 36 pages, I thought it would take forever to get to 100. The next day I read over 300 pages. I could not put the book down. I finished the last 40 pages the next day. I thought about those last 40 pages and could not wait to start reading, I almost thought about giving up my sleep. It is very slow to start and then it starts to pull you in. I felt I needed to make notes in the book for all the questions that I wanted to ask. There are still some questions that they did not answer for me, but at the end I felt the book did not let me down. Once I finished I could not start a new book, this book is so involved that the characters are still going around in my head and I feel they will be there tonight when I sleep.
This story had me engaged from page one, like few other books do. It's the kind of book you can curl up with and get lost in. You will not be able to put it down until you have figured everything out, and even then, you will want to read it again, as I did, the minute you finish it. This is truly a captivating tale, and furthermore, it will make you want to go back and read all of the classics that you might have missed, particularly Jane Eyre, which is mentioned several times throughout. As an aside, you might want to read Jane Eyre before you read this one...I believe it will enhance your enjoyment of The Thirteenth Tale. I myself read it (for the first time) immediately after this one, and although it didn't take away from my enjoyment of either book, I truly wish I had read it first. Enjoy this one!
The main character, Margaret Lea, immediately delighted me with her descriptions of life in her father's rare book shop where she tends old and precious books. She is asked one day, by letter, to write about the true life of the century's most important writer, Vida Winter. She is intrigued and mystified as she has never read any books by contemporary writers and doesn't consider herself a writer, safe for a small publication of an essay. She makes her way to misty Yorkshire where she begins to delve into Vida Winter's story and that of a mysterious and tragic family.
For me this book is primarily about the stories that each person has. There may be a public story, a told story and a true story, but every person has stories. And by telling us Vida and Margaret's stories and placing books so centrally within the plot, it celebrates books and the characters within them. There is a section when Margaret tells us that she takes care of the books in her fathers' shop and reads a few pages every day and as long as someone reads about the characters in them, they stay alive.
This is a wonderful book and I recommend it gighly.