The Thirteenth Tale
Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished… More »
Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished by her reclusiveness. Until now, Vida has toyed with journalists who interview her, creating outlandish life histories for herself - all of them invention. Now she is old and ailing, and at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to Margaret is a summons.Somewhat anxiously, the equally reclusive Margaret travels to Yorkshire to meet her subject - and Vida starts to tell her tale. It is one of gothic strangeness featuring the March family; her mother, the beautiful and wilful Isabelle, who had a powerful hold on her father and brother, and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline.Margaret, herself a twin, is doubly intrigued. But as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction, and she doesn't entirely trust Vida's account. She goes to check up on the family, visit their old home and piece together the story in her own way. What she discovers on her journey to the truth is for Margaret a chilling experience that will transform her life.« Less
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My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth itself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don't expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.
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