The Thirteenth Tale: Endings (SPOILERS)

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The Thirteenth Tale: Endings (SPOILERS)

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1VictoriaPL
Jan 31, 2011, 7:38am

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2Jim53
Jan 31, 2011, 2:04pm

Couple of questions that occurred to me as I read the final chapters:

1. When there's an unknown or unspecified parent, I always look for candidates. The only obvious one for Vida's mother is Isabelle, the same mom as the twins; do we think she's Vida's mom too, probably after being raped by Charlie? I remember a reference to Vida maybe being their half-sister. If it's true, presumably she's somewhat younger than the twins?

2. Toward the end, Margaret refers to Emmeline, but later to "the woman I had thought of as Emmeline." Does that mean she has decided that it was really Adeline who survived the fire? Was there some evidence that pointed to this?

3lkernagh
Edited: Feb 9, 2011, 1:55am

I finished the book this evening..... Overall reaction - Loved It! Someone somewhere here on LT referred to The Thirteenth Tale as a delicious story. I will buy that one word description for this book.

I did enjoy the twists and turns of the final two sections - my bad, I didn't realize that after Endings there was a fourth, very small section aptly titled Beginnings! I felt that the story returned, in all its dark and twisted glory to the gothic foundations laid out at the start of the book. I didn't predict the ghost to be explained as it was - that was a surprise for me.

I didn't enjoy the Post Scriptum - I engaged in a little bit of eye-rolling while I read those last two pages and part of me wishes that the story had ended without that tag on.

Interesting questions Jim. I was left with the unsettling impression that all three girls where Charlie's offspring - two moms, one dad - and that they were close in age, based on one reference in The Ghost in the Tale chapter. I would be curious to learn what everyone else thinks. I too have my doubts as to whether it was Emmeline or Adeline that died in the fire at Angelfield. I think the remains found at Angelfield were Emmeline's, which is why Vida abandoned the baby Aurelius on Mrs. Love's front porch.

Now I have a question/comment to add: While I was reading the book I kept trying to place the time period Margaret lives in - is it the 2000's, is it 20 years earlier, or is it even earlier still? It is the lack of technology indicators that made this such a fascinating, timeless story for me and the little details like Margaret writing the biography with pencil and paper, securing her pencil sharpener to the side of the desk.

4Jim53
Feb 9, 2011, 11:43am

I'm leaning now toward Charlie being the father of all three--there is a comment that the twins do not look at all like their father (Isabelle's husband). That leaves us without a mother for Vida; presumably she's one of the working-class girls Charlie chased. Different mothers means the girls can be closer to the same age, and being the children of incest could explain some of the sisters' extreme characteristics.

I agree that the "tying up" at the end wasn't completely necessary. Perhaps it's intended to be indicative of Margaret's thoroughness.

You're right about the lack of technology or other indicators of the time period, other than motorized taxis. For some reason I was envisioning it happening in the 1950s or 60s, which would put the events of the girls' childhood toward the end of the 1800s, but I can't give any reasons for choosing that time.

5DeltaQueen50
Feb 9, 2011, 1:12pm

I finished the book last night and was sorry to see it end. I loved this book. I thought the Post Scriptum gave us closure on Margaret's quest, allowing us to foresee a future for her and the doctor. She could now live her life without feeling in limbo.

I believe that the woman who survived the fire was Adeline. The baby was left in safety as Vida could never trust Adeline with that baby. At the same time, Vida felt responsible for Adeline's care. But as most people thought she was Adeline, the other became known as Emmeline.

I also definitely feel that the twins were the children of Charlie and Isabelle. As to the time period, I agree with Jim above, it felt very much as if Margaret's story was set in the late 1950's to early 1960's, putting the girl's story back in the late 1800's.

This is one of the things that I most love about this book. Everyone can walk away with their own solutions, I might see it one way and someone else may see it another. The author left a lot up to us readers and I appreciate that she allowed us to use our brains to put the pieces together how we saw them fitting.

6KindleKapers
Feb 9, 2011, 9:47pm

I really like the way the story wrapped up...and I guess that made sense since it was earlier explained that the reason readers love Miss Vida Winter's novels is because they have a beginning, middle and ending. Didn't Vida promise Margaret that she would ultimately answer all her questions? Well, that's just what Ms. Setterfield did by providing closure for the living characters, while still leaving much up to the imagination.

Personally, I was moved by Aurelius Love's story. He was such a lonely character and yet his incredible hope ultimately brought him to a happier place. I was so happy when he discovered that he was not alone in the world, as he originally thought!

One thing that is left open to the imagination is Margaret's relationship with her mother. What do you think - Is their hope for their relationship? Will her mom ever be able to overcome the death of Margaret's conjoined twin and enjoy the company of her living daughter? Or will this be an ongoing struggle for Margaret?

7VictoriaPL
Feb 9, 2011, 9:49pm

I too believe that all three girls are Charlie's. So much Tragedy in this book, with a capital T!

I thought it neat that Margaret was able to understand Emmeline/Adaline's twin speech. I'm just fascinated by that subject I guess.

What did you think about the actual Thirteenth Tale? Is it something that Vida actually lived, was she assaulted?

I did not care for the post script but I see your point, DQ.

For some reason I keep thinking of Her Fearful Symmetry which I read last year. Twins, gothic, unconventional relationships, ghosts, etc. I can't stop comparing the two books.

And I still want that ginger cake recipe!

8lkernagh
Feb 9, 2011, 10:56pm

Responding to recent posts in reverse order:

Ginger cake? How did I miss the ginger cake???? Oh wait.... it was Aurelius' cake! Now I remember!

I need to get my hands on Her Fearful Symmetry.... Thanks for bringing that one to my attention Victoria.

I was thinking that the actual Thirteenth Tale was Vida as the child that was the offspring of the assault and abandoned by her mother.

Twins are a fascinating topic, but not something I have much knowledge about.

I think that Margaret's will have more patience/tolerance for her mother withdrawn nature now, but her mother will remain unchanged

Aurelius' story is a favorite of mine as well. Beautiful.

I have thought about the setting for the book some more and I am now more comfortable with the book being set in the '50's or '60's - although Aurelius's gourmet kitchen with - I am pretty sure the book said - stainless steel appliances has still left me in a bit of a time warp quandary, which I am enjoying!

Great choice for a group read!

9VictoriaPL
Feb 10, 2011, 6:48am

You're right! I forgot Vida was the child of a rape. That makes sense, ties in with the Thirteenth Tale. Sorry - so much to keep in your head!