Monday, November 23, 2009


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.


...mmm... said...

It sounds perfect! anything set in Yokshire dales makes for a promising start alone, don't you think?

Yes, I'd say the critic's critique actually goes to strengthening the book among the classics genre. If we'd be so lucky!

Haha. I just knew you'd say Yokshire Gold once I read that last bit. I had a cup of that this very morning in fact, although surrounded by more concrete than anything as lovely as Yorkshire's moody greens.

Great C. S. Lewis quote, btw. I can't believe I've never come across it before!

ChaChaneen said...

Ooooooooooh this sounds like a keeper! I lurve the similarities of the gothic, Bronte & Eyre references. And of course you had me at tea... I mean that just goes without saying but I HAD to say it. ha ha I just love visiting your blog and seeing the latest book review as we have such similar tastes.

By the way... My Girls baptism was just the best... slayed me really. Can't believe I was able to take pictures with all the emotion I was feeling. Thank you for your sweet comment.

And you mentioned your tableware for Thursday and I'd lurve to see your table-scape all finished when your done. If you remember, take a picture and I'll do the same.

Bachelor said...

Thank you for introducing me to this book and author. The story is right in my favorite time period when life seemed to be a different quality and meaningful style. I am going to remember this one and add it to my small collection of books. I started reading more about 2 years ago.
And the tea... Yorkshire Gold...mmmm, I must try that also.
Have a blessed day!
The Bach

Rebecca said...

Yes, I agree completely. The Yorkshire dales is indeed a perfect setting, and that ridiculous critque just confirmed that this book was special. I just can't get into the overly gratuitous and graphic works, and I refuse to read something that's riddled with profanity.

I need to get some more Yorkshire Gold this weekend, as a matter of fact:)...

ChaChaneen, I am so happy for you and your family. God bless each of you, especially your beautiful girl as she embarks on her faith journey.

I will make it a point to take some photos for the blog and post..I have to work fast with Table settings as my daughter is quick to rearrange..LOL!!


First of all,let me say again how wonderful it is to see you blogging again. Your charming presence has certainly been missed. As for the book, I do hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it as much as I did. It was just so wonderful to find something like this after reading so many really poorly written modern works.

ChaChaneen said...

Stopped by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving if I'm not able to visit before Thursday! A bounty of blessings for you and your family. Looking forward to seeing your lovely and possibly rearranged dishes. tee hee

Rebecca said...

Thank you very much ChaChaneen! The same to you and yours..Happy Thanksgiving:-D...

I really should be doing prep-work like making cornbread for the dressing..etc..I'm such a procrastinator:-/

ChaChaneen said...

Ha ha - I KNOW what you mean. I just got home from getting my nails done, it is restful bliss tonight and I'm visiting blogs cuz... Tomorrow... I start all the prep work. Lol

Blog Princess G said...

Happy Thanksgiving Rebecca to you and all your loved ones! I love the sound of this book and have taken a note of the title. :)