The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I bought a book at the flea market today (because I really NEED another book…). The cover and the title, "The Thirteenth Tale," caught my eye. Seemed somewhat familiar, so I opened the book and scanned a page but the character names didn't ring any bells. The first paragraph on the front flap described it as a novel about a woman unraveling a missing story and a mythologized birth, and it's set in the 20th century. That's all I had to read and I was like "I am SO IN." So I paid my dollar and walked away hugging my book. (Yes, I really do hug books.)
When I got home and looked at the book again, the spark of recognition turned into a brighter flame. Reading through the entire flap this time, bits and pieces of the story began to come back to me. Sets re-materialized in my imagination and characters bounded back into my brain. In fact, scenes played in my head as if on fast forward, emotions felt toward certain characters bubbled up, and I even vaguely remembered the twist of the ending. I've definitely read this before, and it was a really good story even though I don't remember the details (but that makes it even more fun to re-read!).
Some people may have been disappointed to purchase a book they'd already read (even if it was only a dollar), but I found my reaction was more akin to the excitement of coming across an old friend that you haven't seen for a really long time. (And don't you give an old friend a hug when you see them? See? :) I must've sold my copy or given it away before I left New Jersey—I sold a lot of books trying to lighten the load on the truck (didn't do much good and I regret some of those sales still). But here is at least one returned home to my library of favorite reads. The imprint page (which I find almost as interesting as the story these days) says it was first published in 2006 (this one is a hardcover first edition too; my favorite kind!). 2006 was a couple years before I moved to California. Not as long ago as I supposed, but easily long enough for other stories to have crowded this one to the back stacks of my neurons.
This isn't the first time I've come across a used book that I forgot I read before. I figure if it's turned up in my life again, it was for a good reason. I don't believe in coincidences. Ironically, I looked up the author to see what else she's written, and it so happens that she hasn't published another novel in the last seven years. However, she does have one in the works—Bellman and Black—and it will be released on November 7, 2013. (Yay for not even having to wait too long!) Perhaps that's the only reason this one turned up again, because although Diane Setterfield was on the NYT bestseller list, I definitely would not have remembered to keep checking for her next book. (I hope Diane Harkness doesn't take that long with the third book in her trilogy!) My mystical brian likes to think this is the ultimate marketing trick: to be able to reach your former audience after seven years absence to advertise your new release by making your debut book turn up in their path! I hope when I have multiple books out, I can manage that too!
Very much looking forward to Setterfield's new release as well as the re-read of The Thirteenth Tale. This one and her new one should definitely be on your "To Read" list.
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