Tag: Diane Setterfield

Review – The Thirteenth Tale

Posted November 18, 2014 by in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThe Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is certainly an absorbing story in one way — and I prefer it to Bellman & Black, as people told me I probably would — but now I’m finished I’m left feeling a little bit cheated. The mysteries shook out more or less as I expected; the creepy gothic air never quite worked for me, because it’s very much a homage to books which are rather a lot better; the hints of supernatural stuff and ghosts never convinced me… And so on. I could see what it was trying to do, and if I tried hard enough, I could bury myself in it, but it never quite swept me away.

That said, I read it in more or less two massive chunks, and it certainly keeps the pages turning despite the slow pace to it. The stuff that’s obviously meant to appeal to bookworms, that sensation of reading something so bright and fresh and alive as Vida Winter’s work is supposed to be, she captures something of that enchantment, I think. I actually smiled a bit at the narrator’s stuff surrounding reading — yep, I’ve sat up with a book so long it accidentally got round to morning again, without even realising, and was stupid and clumsy the next day with sleepiness; yep, when I’ve been reading intensely all day, somehow I’m just not hungry, like the words have filled me up.

There’s very little more insipid than the narrator’s character, though. I’ve forgotten her name. I remember her twin’s name, but not hers. Set against her, maybe Vida Winter’s story can’t help but be fascinating.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Bellman & Black

Posted November 1, 2013 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

Cover of Bellman & Black, by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black, Diane Setterfield

I got Bellman & Black from Netgalley a while ago, without really knowing anything about it. It turned out to be a smooth, easy read, but it didn’t really get any emotional hooks into me. The narration is very straightforward after the opening chapter, which seemed to promise more by way of emotion — the main character’s courtship of his wife takes barely a chapter, and a short chapter at that! So with all that it’s very hard to get involved in the rest of the novel. Despite all the death and so on, it felt… bloodless.

It was interesting that Diane Setterfield clearly spent quite a long time on the research for this, and wove the life of the mills into the story. That was somewhat compelling to me, but like everything else it slid by so fast

There’s nothing major wrong with the novel as a whole, really, but I have very little to say about it — perhaps it’d be good for a train journey, or a flight, or something like that. I’m somewhat interested in Setterfield’s first novel, though partly because I’m told it’s quite different and some people seem to consider it better.

Review on Goodreads.

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