A PERFECT WINTER READ FOR TEA LOVERS
C.S. Lewis said, " You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me". That quote has always spoken to me, resonating on a near spiritual level, as I suspect it has with more than a few tea and classic literature lovers. Sadly, I seem to have a difficult time finding a modern work of fiction that will hold my attention span long enough to bewitch and captivate me or worthy to apply such a brilliant quote to. That is, until I stumbled across a gem of a book called The Thirteenth Tale. This Gothic suspense novel cast its spell and entranced me from the first page until the very last one. The book is set in atmospheric Yorkshire, against a mesmerizing backdrop of Heathcliff-esque moors and the grey skies of a wintry Northern England. With this particular setting, the Bronte associations manifest from the beginning and strengthen with repeated references to Jane Eyre. This book is actually the first novel by English writer Diane Setterfield and the eloquence of her writing transported me into a time where words truly had the power to weave a tapestry in the imagination of the reader. I dare say I had to remind myself, repeatedly, that I was indeed reading a modern work by an unknown author and not one of my much cherished classics from Dickens, Bronte, or Du Maurier. Ironically, one of the very few critical comments I have read about this book is a rather shallow complaint that it was not 'modern' enough: that the eccentric characters and lyrical language hearkened one back to classic English literature. Said critic was then quick to note that she in fact loathed the classics. I found it quite amusing how in direct contrast to the critic's analogies, Setterfield's nostalgic, intellectually stimulating writing style and vividly intoxicating descriptions courted and romanced me, securing that a hard bound copy will be purchased for years of repeated readings. I shall slip a copy into my book shelf, perhaps between Wuthering Heights and of course Jane Eyre. It is also worthy to note that there are plenty of wonderful tea references in this book. Given that added treat, what tea might I recommend to drink whilst cuddled in your favorite chair by the fire with this book? Yorkshire Gold, of course!
Below is a brief synopsis of the story from Wikipedia:
Vida Winter, the most famous novelist in England and quite possibly the world, has never been forthcoming when it comes to her past. Her entire life is a secret, and for fifty years reporters and biographers have attempted to discover the truth. With her health quickly fading, Ms. Winter enlists a bookish amateur biographer named Margaret Lea to bear witness to the tragic story of the Angelfield family, their eccentric beginnings as well as their demise. Margaret, who has family secrets of her own, must unravel the mysteries of the past in order to reconcile not only Miss Winter with her ghosts, but also Margaret with her own.