Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Thirteenth Tale

I cannot believe that I am reading a novel. I read. But I feel like I need to use my reading time reading something that will change me in some way. Novels can do this. I have read some, for instance, The Sojourner by Marjorie Keenan Rawlings. If you have a passive temperament, you should definitely read this. If you are choleric, or a fighter, it will just make you mad, and even less tolerant of those who flee rather than fight.

I mostly read turn of the century writers. Harriet Beecher Stowe is one of my favorites to read aloud. Her words are so delicious to the tongue. Although known for Uncle Tom's Cabin, I found that very painful to read, my choice of her writings was A Minister's Wooing.

I like Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss because it is in first person and is written diary form and begins in the life of a sixteen year old and finishes at the end of her life. Lots of wrestles that I have experienced, and exposing of real life meets ideal faith. I thought it was honest and not all flowery like some religious writing. While not church=ey, (sermons), just as if someone wrote down their honest thoughts as they experienced life trying to live out faith. It gave me freedom to be honest with God, and now I am known in His presence to be sassy sometimes. Not that I wasn't before-------it's just that now I see it, and can admit it----I am not confessing to Him, after all, He knows.....I am confessing to me and coming clean.

Well. Now we come to The Thirteenth Tale. Even its appearance matches the book somewhat.

I lost a very dear friend to Ovarian cancer a few years ago. Her husband eventually gave me a few bags of her books because he knew what a bibliophile I am. Because he doesn't understand that not all books are alike, he would not know that we had different reading tastes. Perhaps this is why my friend never suggested I read it. I told her that I rarely read novels, as I find them not written very well, and they are either disappointing in the end, and can't keep me in them.

I recently read Chesapeake by James Michner. Oh, I could hardly put it down. But he did two things which make me not pick up another. One chapter he put in the middle of the book was a completely different book and only annoyed me, and I skipped most of it. The end of the book was not even close to the beginning in quality and understanding of his story. It's like he experienced the first half and guessed at the second. This was true of his mini-series Centennial. Everyone I share it with loves the first five or six dvd's. After that, it just becomes another soap opera, and lacks the "wonder" of the beginning of the story.

I have another friend who is an avid reader if she isn't able to garden. One day when she was over, she picked the book out of the bag, and after looking it over, said, "I'll take this one and read it and let you know how it is." We meet about half-way in reading. She mostly listens to books on tape, and while I did not like "The Time Traveler's Wife", she thought it very good. We both like books written above the fourth grade reading level-----you know what I mean. I tend to like books that are over my head, and stretch me and make me work at understanding them.
I don't know why, but I get bored otherwise, or want to rewrite it.

Whoever wrote the summary to The Thirteenth Tale did it an injustice. I never would have read it from that. My girlfriend reported that she was sure that I would like it and that I should give it a try. I was currently reading Walter Cronkite's story and finding it quite interesting. I hate to stop one book and start another, but sometime I picked it up and looked beyond the back summary and book flaps.

This is a book lovers book. All bibliophiles should read this. We like bookshop stories. We like the smell of old books, we like their personalities, their hand-written footnotes of those who discovered them before us.

"Remember that picture of Dickens in his study? the picture he has pushed his chair back from his desk and is drowsing, eyes closed, bearded chin on his chest..........around his head, characters from his books are drifting in the air like cigar smoke.........

The reason I remember it so well is that it seems to be an image of the way I have lived.......I have closed my study door.........I have eavesdropped with impunity on the lives of people who do not exist. I have peeped shamelessly into hearts and bathroom closets. I have leaned over shoulders to follow the movements of quills as they write love letters, wills and confessions. I have watched as lovers love, murderers murder and children play their make believe. Prisons and brothels have opened their doors to me; galleons and camel trains have transported me across sea and sand; centuries and continents have fallen away at my bidding. I have spied upon the misdeeds of the mighty and witnessed the nobility of the meek. I have bent so low over sleepers in their beds that they might have felt my breath on the faces. I have seen their dreams.

My study throngs with characters waiting to be written. Imaginary people, anxious for a life, who tug at my sleeve, crying, 'Me next! Go on! My turn!' I have to select. And once I have chosen, the others lie quiet for ten months or a year, until I come to the end of the story, and the clamor starts up again."
************from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

BRAVO! I am clapping!!!! I just wanted to get you a sample of the style of writing. This is not the plot of the story, but the backdrop. It is intriguing and well written. I am not finished with it yet, and I hope she can keep up the quality. I don't know if she has written anything else, but I would be interested in reading it if she has.

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