Rating: [rate 4.0]
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories — equally as notorious for its missing thirteenth tale — has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to reveal the truth about her extraordinary life and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida delves back in time to the life she meant to bury for good. Struck by a curious parallel between Vida’s story and her own, Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness — but can’t ignore her suspicions about Vida’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.
This is one of the books that is sort of written about books and writers, wrapped in a gothic type of way. I wasn’t really sure what time this novel is set since it feels old but in a way it kind of feels new. It’s like it’s probably set in a recent time but with the description of everything and the seeming absence of modern furniture, it feels like it’s set in a time where technology is hardly present.
I’ve been told that this novel had a boring start, but I did not find the start of it boring at all. Maybe it’s because I’m distracted by how beautifully written the prose was. I’m no expert with words or books or literature, but there’s a certain beauty with how the words were written in this novel.
Story-wise, it was very intriguing. Not really gripping in a way that you can’t put it down, but intriguing enough for me to want to finish the book. The ending was really surprising and satisfying, although I did get confused for a while with what happened to Margaret.
Oh and yes, the thirteenth tale was eventually revealed. ;)
It’s not exactly an “OMG THIS BOOK IS SOOO GOOD” type of book, but it’s a good read. :)