Friday, November 10, 2006
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Whoopee! I finally finished The Thirteenth Tale! Ten guesses where I acquired the image at left? What, you got it in one? Amazing!
Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you. Well, it was like that. All day I had been prey to distractions. Thoughts, memories, feelings, irrelevant fragments of my own life, playing havoc with my concentration.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a previous book to blame for my lack of concentration; but, I did have trouble focusing on this book. Why? I've mulled that question a great deal, actually, since just about everyone with the exception of Les seems to have fallen instantly in love with The Thirteenth Tale. I think probably the most likely culprit was timing because the moody, gothic atmosphere was well described and Setterfield's writing fairly graceful, if not occasionally eloquent. There are several passages I've marked because they expressed something I have personally felt, often either uniquely or in a manner that I wish I could have come up with, myself.
I irritate myself by putting things down and forgetting where I have left them. And when I pick up my book at night, my bookmark tells me that the previous night I must have turned the pages blindly, for I have no recollection at all of the events on the page or the one before.
That sentiment was unfortunately familiar. Yes, this book was pretty much a slog, for me. But, no, I can't really blame it entirely on the book - even our fantastic weather probably had something to do with the fact that I never became thoroughly immersed in the story.
I did dislike the fact that there were so many characters who were simply born evil and stayed that way or, their opposite, passive little lambs. However, as the book progressed, characters I found likable or whom I admired for their strength, humor, or intelligence gradually appeared. And, the pace seemed to really pick up during the last 50-75 pages.
Overall, I think the book was above average - very good writing and a storyline whose strands were nicely woven together toward the end. I loved the way the author insisted on wrapping up every little thread of the story, so that no loose ends were left to dangle and torment the reader. So, in spite of taking absolutely forever to finish the book, I'm going to give it a very slightly above-average rating (which really kind of looks weird, but I don't feel right going as far as to call it an "excellent" book).