The narration in this audiobook was superb. The story was engaging, although a bit long, it took me almost a month of commuting to complete it. Vivid descriptions by the author paint vivid scenes of a grand backdrop and a twisted family tale. Would recommend this.
After reading all the hype about how wonderful and atmospheric this novel is, I made it my first Audible purchase. Diane Setterfield had good intentions, inspired as she was by Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and other grand novels written in the gothic style. Alas, Ms. Setterfield is no Charlotte Bronte.
The first chapter was promising, but as it progressed the book surrendered to lazy, amateur writing. I am astonished that Setterfield's editors allowed her juvenile reliance on adverbs and redundant descriptions to pass unchanged. Chapter after chapter, I thought if I heard one more reference to something being Clean, hair being Neat, tea being Hot, someone moving Slowly, Smoothly over something else, I would tear out my own hair.
The awkward back story to the novel, that of being a twin, was portrayed with such melodrama it was impossible to take it seriously. The primary character, Margaret Lea, was so haunted by absurd images of some lost twin she never knew, every time she saw her reflection she was nearly overcome by the vapors. The book's subject of interest, Vida Winter, is described as the most successful author of her time. If that is to be believed, Ms. Winter should be capable of telling her own story in an elegant, literary style. She does not. She tells her story in the same dull order as the rest of the book.
Ms. Setterfield wanted to create a dark, gothic atmosphere. Instead, she gave us characters without depth and a setting that we can only conclude was "gray." For all her references to Jane Eyre, she could stand to read it again.
While the story itself could have been intriguing and enigmatic, the novel reads as if she was so excited about the neat story idea she came up with, she did not consider whether or not she had the skill to tell it. Perhaps with better editing and more rewrites, future Setterfield novels will live up to the hype. This one, not so much.
The narrators, on the other hand, were fantastic.
Margaret Lee, the protagonist, was bookish and tells her story at an antagonizingly slow pace. Her world was her father???s shop that dealt in rare books until she was compelled by invitation to write a biography for a dying, yet famous author. I have to admit I seldom read stories about women as central characters. I must overcome this limitation, but looking back over the year, John Irving, Richard Ford, and Pat Conroy???s characters were easier for me to comprehend sympathetically. Women live in a parallel world from men. (Thus reveals my narrow perspective.) As an example, Miss Lee??? musings of lost twins never stirred in me the sensation of mystical presence and wordless communication it intended. Nevertheless, as the story reached its climatic end I realized the slow, easy, wandering pace had covered an enormous tale spanning three generations. I fell in love with it. The narrators were excellent. Just as I thought I could predict the outcome, the story would reveal another twist thus, burying the truth a little deeper into the lost past. Repeatedly, the entreaty of the young man in the beginning would point the way with his plea to the dying women to ???tell me the truth.??? The ending was very good and made me want to start the story again from the beginning to better understand Margaret Lee
I love books and was skeptical that I would like an audio version. The Thirteenth Tale is a wonderful story; and the narration is first rate! I will listen to it again and again. To listen to a story while I work (photo editing) or craft is great. It is easy to pause the story, back up to review, or bookmark a spot to pick up later.
I never write reviews. It's probably not a good thing because I rely on them heavily when making my decisions. This book has compelled me enough to write a review. It has been a month since I first listened to this book; I can't stop talking about it and am already listening to it again. I don't know what it is about it, the great narration or the mystery in the story itself, but this book is definitely worth your time.
It's so refreshing to listen to something that wasn't predictable!! I will certainly read more from this author in the future. The ending was complete and left me satisfied. This book kept my interest from beginning to end. This is a must read :)
Wonderful writing & exceptionally captivating and well-crafted story. I thoroughly enjoyed the 15+ hours and was completely immersed in the novel.
I enjoyed this book when I listened to it the first time, as it is well written somewhat in the style of old favorites from Austen, Dickens, and the Brontes. Excellent pacing and real, complex characters allowed the intrigue to develop and continue to suck me in. Then when I had a second listen for a new bookclub, the richness of the story and the writing revealed itself even further. I've listened to it 4 times now and find something new every listen.
For those who love 19th century english literature, this novel is destined to be a new treasure. For those who simply enjoy a great mystery, a well written book, or a good story, this novel is a worthy investment of time and money.
Dark and British... puts me in that Dickens mood... I listened 3 times from start to finish. Each time I caught another piece of the puzzle. Well written and expertly narrated. I have followed Bianca Amato to her work with Alison Wier's The Innocent Traitor. I am in my vehicle all day and if a book is not written or narrated well, I can't listen. This one was a blue ribbon winner. Please, Ms. Setterfield.... more of the same!