giovedì 24 settembre 2020

Review: The Tirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Tirteenth Tale

Published: September 12th 2006
Publisher: Orion
Number of pages: 416
Format: Hardback
Source: Bought
Purchase: Amazon, TBD, B&N

From Goodreads: 

All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic 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.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.


My Review

The Tirteenth tale is a novel about death, about life and about survival. 

Usually, when I start a book, I prefer to have as little information as possible: a couple lines from the synopsis might be enough, I prefer to discover everything by reading the full thing. So when I started The Tirteenth Tale, I just knew that it was about the story of Vida Winter and her desire to finally unveil her life to the world through Margaret's narration. Little did I know about the creepy setting, the dark atmosphere and the disturbed characters this book would contain. I saw it defined around the web as a modern gothic novel and I couldn't agree more.

As you might know, I love this kind of stories. I loved how the author skillfully brought to life the Angelfield mansion and its occupants: the house - decadent, rotting, abandoned - just a mirror of the family's soul. Diane Setterfield creates a range of complex characters with perversed minds and dark souls, yet she helps you understand the psycology of all of them. All this characteristics, make up for such a twisted story. 

I loved the fact that the narration is left to Margaret, which is an outsider in Vida's story and represents all of the readers' doubts and questions. I really liked how the narration of the story in the end  helps both characters in finding a personal balance, even though I would have liked for Margaret's growth to be a little more explored in the ending, so that I could actually think of her as a protagonist and not just a medium between Vida and the world. Vida, infact, appears to be much more central in the book than Margaret herself. Consequently, every time the narration switched to Margaret's own life, it was inevitable to feel a little frustrated by the break in Vida's narration.

The fact that the literary world has such a power in the book is one of the reason why it was so fascinating. And I'm not just talking about a book that was practically set inside a bookshop, nor about the constant references to literary masterpieces such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I'm talking about how the act of reading and writing especially, seemed to be irrevocably linked to the life of the protagonists. Vida could not find peace until her very last story was concluded: the cathartic power of narration being her only chance at finding comfort.

The author herself, plays a lot with all the instruments of narration, but you won't get her refinement until the very end - and this is why I would really like to re-read the book to try and see if the mystery could be solved from the hints she gave! (Maybe you will be cleverer than me?!)

The only point that I feel like criticising a little bit, is the whole "13th tale" mystery. I know that what the author came up with was the only solution to the issue, but it felt like it was placed there just to have an ending to all the unfinished businesses Vida had: more space should have been given to how the 13th tale was actually brought to the public. 

This, and a narrative style that was brilliant, evocative yet heavy and tiring at times, prevent me from giving this book 5 full stars. But I will certainly buy any other thing Setterfield has written and will write!

Rated 4.7

mercoledì 23 settembre 2020

Book Blitz: Prescription for a lonely heart by Rosalie Jardin [Giveaway!]

  

Prescription for a Lonely Heart
Rosalie Jardin

Publication date: September 21st 2020
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

“If we’re both still single when we’re thirty, we’ll marry each other . . .”

The marriage pact was made during a lazy day at the beach, half in jest, and seemingly forgotten by the boy who started it.

But ten years later, Kay hadn’t forgotten. She’s still shy and introverted, not interested in relationships. So when Adrian reappears in her life—two years early—and asks her to marry him now, she surprises herself by agreeing.

So now she must deal with her mother’s disapproval, his brother’s hostility, and a load of self-doubt. Can she forge a real relationship with Adrian? Has he really changed from a ladies man to someone she can trust? Will she be able to let go of everything she’s ever thought she wanted and reach out to grab a new future?

Prescription for a Lonely Heart is the first book on the “Hearts in Glencoe City” series. This friends-to-lovers standalone romance features a marriage pact, a calm-but-sassy heroine, a himbo with a heart, and a HEA guaranteed.

Goodreads / Amazon


Read an excerpt!

“We should make a marriage pact.” My eyes almost popped out. My heart, too. “You know? If we both aren’t married by the age of thirty, we’ll marry each other.”

What?!“ Now it was my turn to throw my head back and laugh. I laughed so hard, the sides of my stomach ached. “Oh no, no, no, no, no. No. That is not something I’m interested in, sorry.”

“Obviously if we end up marrying other people, the deal is null and void,” he pointed out. It did nothing to quash my resistance. “But you’re one of the nicest girls I know and I like hanging out with you. And I’m pretty sure that you can tolerate me for more than five minutes.”

My eyes were as wide as saucers. Was he for real? “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear all that, Adrian. You know you’re talking nonsense, right?”

“I’m not! Do you think I’m kidding? Why wouldn’t I make this pact with you?”

“Because a lot can happen in twelve years!” I stood up from my beach chair, exasperated. Where was this coming from? Did he conveniently forget this past year when we barely said a word to each other? The summer heat was messing with his brain. “People change, things change, the world changes! Pacts are made one day and broken the next.”

“The world can change all it wants, but if I’m able, I’ll always keep this promise no matter what.” The way he looked at me, eyes wide open with a hint of boyish charm, reminded me of why he was popular with the ladies at school. “I get that things may change and we may both end up married to other people and we could laugh about this later. But I can’t think of a better person to take this kind of pact with.”

My eyes fluttered closed. I willed myself to remain calm, and ordered my heart to keep steady. I had to admit that there was something flattering about being “proposed to” (and I’m using the phrase loosely) by the most “desirable” (or at least that’s what I’m told) guy in school. Between that wild wavy black hair, dark eyes, and tanned skin, he was pleasing on the eyes. If you asked everyone else what made Adrian so attractive, they’d point out his toned muscular body or that bright smile of his. But it was his kind heart that mattered to me more.

If anyone could get me to consider agreeing to this kind of pact, it was him.


About the author:
Rosalie Jardin is the pen name an American-born author living in British Columbia. Writing has been a passion since she was five, beginning with telling stories- which often got her in trouble with her teachers because they kept catching her writing instead of doing her schoolwork.

Rosalie considers herself to be living the glamorous geek mom life and channels that energy into her writings and her debut novel. Her characters rumble around in her head, demanding to have their stories told and, like any good author, she is just doing what she’s told.

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