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October 20, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

I am hoping that everyone enjoyed this choice as much as we did. We couldn't wait to get started with the discussion this month.

I'm going to post a few questions to get us started but let's begin with general impressions, favorite passages, a kind of into. get to know each other post.

(There will be spoilers in questions and responses so if you haven't finished you might want to be aware of that.)

My overall impression? I was overwhelmed by the writing, the storyline, the gothic style, the nod to the classics, the characters. I stayed up late, like one of the characters in the novel, swept away by the story and needing to know how it ended.

I am going to start with a passage from pg 29:

I read old novels. The reason is simple: I prefer proper endings. Marriages and deaths, noble sacrifices and miraculous restorations, tragic separations and unhoped-for reunions, great falls and dreams fulfilled; these, in my view, constitute an ending worth the wait. They should come after adventure, perils, dangers and dilemmas, and wind everything up nice and neatly. Endings like this are to be found more commonly in old novels than new ones, so I read old novels.
Contemporary literature is a world I know little of. My father had taken me to task on this topic many times during our daily talks about books. He reads as much as I do, but more widely, and I have great respect for his opinions. He has described in precise, measured words the beautiful desolation he feels at the close of novels where the message is that there is no end to human suffering, only endurance. He has spoken of endings that are muted, but which echo longer in the memory than louder, more explosive denouements. He has explained why it is that ambiguity touches his heart more nearly than the death and marriage style of finish that I prefer.

So which kind of novel is The Thirteenth Tale? Is it an "old" novel or a "new" novel? Is it really tied up neatly or does Setterfield leave us a touch of ambiguity?

How does The Thirteenth Tale compare to the classic gothic novels? What elements does it have in common?

Do we know the time period that the novel is set in? Is it relevant?

How is this a ghost story? Or is it?

There are many other directions we could shoot off in here--characters, settings, themes and motifs (Jane Eyre)--but I just wanted to get the ball rolling a bit.

There's the question everyone has been asking me: When did you know?
so...when did you know? Now that you know what clues were there along the way that you may or may not have picked up on?

How did you like it? What did you think? Those are places to start as well. Everyone is welcome to join in. There is no need to sign up or sign in. Feel free to invite others as well.

This one definitely goes on my re-read shelf, the shelf where the favorites live.

Posted by michelle at October 20, 2006 08:29 AM