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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield I'm always a bit worried when book is compared to such greats as Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. Could be great, could be gothic crap. Well, it turns out it this was neither. The plot concerns two women. One is super-famous author Vida Winter, now in her declining years, who has told one lie after another about her past to reporters and critics. It is a point of pride for them to have a "Vida Winter" story to tell. The other is bookish loner Margaret Lea, who has written a couple slim biographies about obscure people but spends most her time in her father's antiquarian book shop. One day, she receives a letter from Winter asking her to write the definitive Vida Winter biography: Winter is finally ready to tell the truth. The rest of the novel is the process of Winter telling her the haunting and disturbing story of her family, her childhood, and her twin. Rochester's crazed and secret wife in Jane Eyre is nothing to the dysfunction of this family.

I can't deny I enjoyed reading it and was suitably surprised by the ending (although it was a bit gimmicky and I was tempted to skim the book to see whether there were clues I missed or whether there was really no way to guess). I liked the style of writing, which felt old-fashioned without being ponderous. And the ghost-story breathlessness did keep me turning the pages. What I didn't like was the clumsy and repetitious reminders of Setterfield's idea that twins are one person, unable to thrive w/o one another. And I found Margaret tiresome; she seems to only have two modes: mooning about and having the vapors. Vida was a lot more interesting.