Distiller: Hikari Loftus
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield
Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
This is a story about twins.
Reclusive and extremely famous/popular author Vida Winter has spent the last six decades telling reporter after reporter a series of fictitious stories about her past. Now that she’s old, sick, and near the end of her life, she’s finally ready to tell someone the truth.
She writes to Margaret Lea, a book lover and biographer with her own troubled past, asking her if she will listen to, and write, her biography—the true history that she has kept secret.
To Margaret, Vida finally tells her mysterious, painful, and secret past. One that includes a troubled family, feral twins, a ghost, a governess, a garden, and the fire that changed everything. It is by listening to Vida’s ghost story, that Margaret faces her own ghosts as they face the past together.
This book is definitely a book for book lovers. People who love how a story, book, and words can change you. There are beautifully written passages of loving books and the written word that I connected with on a deep level. I admit that there were times that the writing in this book felt a little tedious, but at the same time they made the world building and the characters vividly clear and real to me.
I loved the mystery in this book. I loved the guessing and wondering and confusion. I loved puzzling out what was happening as I tried to anticipate the ending. It was fun to tuck away pieces of information I thought might be important to see what would become of them in the end.
Due to my crazy month, I didn’t get to read the last 100 pages before our book club discussion, (the most important 100 pages) So I read them last night knowing the big secret. I cannot tell if I would have figured it out before (because once you know, it’s clear as day in the final pages) but I still felt a little amazed by it. Especially because in the first half, where the secrets are still vague, I would never have guessed. I loved Vida very much. I thought Margaret was a weirdo, but still a great character. ha.
This book was cruel, beautiful, mysterious, heartbreaking, and entertaining. Definitely one I will add to my shelves and an excellent book club book since there is so much to discuss!