The Thirteenth Tale: Endings (SPOILERS)
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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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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!