The Thirteenth Tale: Beginnings (SPOILERS)

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The Thirteenth Tale: Beginnings (SPOILERS)

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Jan 31, 2011, 7:37am

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Feb 4, 2011, 9:43am

I am not quite finished the Beginnings section yet but I couldn't wait to finish the section before posting some comments. I just finished the chapter "And so we Begin ..." last night. I was wondering why everyone kept on telling me that this was a gothic tale. I didn't have that feeling at the start of the book but I do now. I am still creeped out by Charlie.... still trying to figure out Isabelle ... and that whole internal tattoo thing.... geez, I had another chill go down my spine just thinking about it!

I will be back with more comments after I finish the section.

Feb 5, 2011, 5:46am

Hi lkernagh - I finished that part last night too. For me, the first evidence of this being a gothic tale was when I first learned that Margaret Lea was a biographer for obscure dead people...kind of got gave me an eerie feeling - that and when she discovered she had a twin who died...

I also am totally creeped out by Charlie...and Isabelle too (Roland's death from pneumonia seems awfully suspicious to me)! ...and I can't help but wonder who Emmeline & Adeline's father really is :o.

Will check back in after I read some more. Type of book that keeps calling to me to continue

Feb 5, 2011, 5:13pm

Hi Mimi - Yup, Charlie and Isabelle are creepy..... as for the twins, I am a little undecided on who there father is as well. Before I finish with the twins, I really think 'feral' is an appropriate word to describe them. What a chaotic upbringing! Setterfield has written this in a manner that leaves some information open to debate - like who the twins father really is - which I like because it adds to the overall mystery of the story.

I have finished 'Beginnings' - I couldn't help but giggle in delight at Margaret's encounter with Aurelius in the 'Friendly Giant' chapter - it added a brightness, almost 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to the story. I do hope we encounter Aurelius again further into the book.

I am really enjoying this book, and love the overall gothic, period piece feel of the story. So far I have more questions than answers - Why is Charlie's death listed in the almanac as a legal decree of decease? What happened to the twins after that unfortunate incident when the doctor's wife visited Angelfield? Where did they take Isabelle? What is Vida dying from?

Feb 6, 2011, 2:14pm

Oh my! I had no idea it was deliciously gothic. I'm loving it, truly. I had to stop before Middles to take some lunch (like Margaret... "you won't forget to eat something, will you?).

Lori, you have captured my thoughts perfectly.
Feral is exactly right for the twins. Stealing bits of food here and there, creeping into people's homes, their glowing green eyes in the shade....
Aurelius was rather fantastical. I want his recipe. I've got a hankering for cake now.
Yes, I do wonder about Charlie and Isabelle.Will they appear again later on? How did the Angelfield fire come about?

Edited: Feb 6, 2011, 5:35pm

Just finished beginnings and I’m loving the whole creepy, gothic aspect of this tale. A few things stand out to me…

Most strikingly is the important role that books play in both Margaret and Miss Winter’s lives. I think Margaret considers books as a way to immortality, especially for those who write these books. According to Margaret, “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their language, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” To me it seems like her desire to connect with those who have died through her reading and her career as a biographer, is somehow linked to her connection with her twin sister…I personally think books are an awesome way to time travel, getting to know those shadows of the past as well as what is possibly to come.

Margaret also sees books as a great way of getting to know another person. When she is first summoned to meet Vida Winter, she arrives in her library early so she had time to explore. She says “and for me, what better way to get to know someone than through her choice and treatment of books.” This made me wonder what Margaret would make of me, with my eclectic choice of books in my library! ;)

As far as Vida goes, the books she reads and writes have all mixed together with her life experiences to fuel her imagination. She uses the “life in compost” metaphor to describe this which I think is kind of cool. I also think that Vida has used her writing as a means of escape from herself…from her own past. But I need to read farther to further understand the life she is escaping.

On another note, I’ve been thinking about how Emmeline & Adeline ravages John-the-Dig’s beloved garden. Why do you think they did that? I was also disturbed by the perambulator incident…both scared & curious about what the twins will do next!

Feb 7, 2011, 3:16pm

I too am loving this book! Being a little zonked out on pain killers I don't seem to have the ability to express myself very well, but I am devouring this book. A truly dark, twisted tale with moments of absolutlely beautiful clarity.

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, she writes so well. Took me a little bit to get into, but once Vida started in with her story - well, from there I find it hard to put down.

Feb 7, 2011, 9:02pm

DeltaQueen - I would imagine that being on pain killers would make reading this even more surreal :D...hope you feel better!

Feb 8, 2011, 5:53pm

Thanks KindleKapers - surreal is the perfect word!

Feb 8, 2011, 11:32pm

Hi Mimi - I am enjoying the focus this story takes on books - good observation.

Judy - Hope you are feeling better soon, although I have to agree - this is a good book to read in a surreal state of mind!