Cephalopod Coffee House: The Thirteenth Tale
Created and managed by the Armchair Squid, the purpose of the Cephalopod Coffee House is to post on the last Friday of the month about the best book you've read over the past month, and visit other bloggers doing the same. Jump on over here for the full list.
I read 4 books over the past month, but the one I have to absolutely tell you about is The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. Blurb from Amazon:
The enigmatic Vida Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
I picked this one up at the local library, based off of the blurb and the fact that I was forcing myself to choose a non-genre book. I was shocked - shocked! - by how much I enjoyed this book. I was about fifty pages from the end, and very upset that I had to stop long enough to drive home from work before I could finish it.
At first I was afraid that it would be one of those wordy books that spend three pages describing the smell of old books and the mist on the moors and blah blah blah, but that wasn't the case. Written in beautiful language The Thirteenth Tale is part (fictional) memoir, part mystery with one twist I saw coming from a mile away, and a second twist that hit me out of the blue. If you like gothic novels with a contemporary twist, this is the book for you.