A Ripping Yarn, or Where I Wax Academic

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t think I can add more glory to this book than it has already received, so I’ll just say I felt almost honored to have read it. It’s about big themes: loss, redemption, sacrifice, memory. It’s also a tale about The Other in whatever form it takes. Twins figure large in the tale, and to go into it to any degree might spoil it, so suffice to say, it is about bonds that can go beyond the grave. But for me, and I’m sure for everyone else here at Goodreads, the most intriguing connection to The Other (Okay, this capitalization makes it sound like I’m talking about aliens!) is with books. I can’t imagine my existence without them; a great story can transform me on the almost cellular level. As the great dame novelist said in this tale, “…nothing is more telling than a story.”

And what The Thirteenth Tale told me was that a story is the place where the storymaker and the storytaker are prepared to be changed. Vida Winter’s cathartic tale brought peace to her and Margaret Lea. It also changed me, though I’m sure that’s not what Diane Setterfield had in mind. Still I was inspired and gratified, riveted and restored.

Now before this review spins off into rhapsodic nebulae, let me ground it by saying that the Tale is a ripping good yarn. There’s a crumbling mansion, old books, a dead body or two, a handsome man, a ghost or two, and a madwoman. So you can read it and not fear being changed. Just don’t be surprised if you are.

View all my reviews


About mkstelmack

A reader of Russian literature, romance, homeschooling catalogues and juvenile literature. A writer of unusual historical romances set in imperial Russia. A mother of two (quarter-Russians), a wife of one (half-Russian).
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