Monday, May 9, 2011

The Thirteenth Tale

Book:  The Thirteenth Tale
Author:  Diane Setterfield
Like/Don't Like:  It was exasperating.  Don't.

This is a 400 page book, which is not much of a challenge.  I mean, it's not Dickens or Atlas Shrugged.  Yet it took me one month to read the first 200 pages (ONE MONTH!  Did I somehow end up in Remedial Reading?) It zapped my will to read.  So this morning, at only halfway through, I made the decision to stop reading.  I even made an announcement, "I'm not going to finish that book."  Because I just didn't care.  I didn't care about the characters, the mystery was too slowly revealed, the pacing was laborious.  I could not justify spending another minute on the book.  So how did I get to this point - a mere 12 hours after making the proclamation that I quit?  Spite.  I was a little peeved that I had wasted an entire month of reading on a book that I wouldn't even finish.  So I postponed cleaning my room and dug in.  And I have to say the second half was decidedly better than the first.  But not enough to make me want to recommend it to you. 

The concept is an interesting one and, on a personal level, a familiar one.  A woman whose twin sister died at birth (I thought that would give me some kind of connection to the story because I have a twin sister who died at 4 months.  It didn't.) is brought in to write the biography of a famous but reclusive writer who is also a twin.  There are a lot of mysteries and all of them are solved nice and neat and the end.  But the problem is that I felt very little satisfaction in any of the answers because getting there was so exasperating.  The story really suffers from a lack of good editing.  What could have easily been said in 1 paragraph was often said in 1 chapter.  Characters who should be important to you seem to have no personality beyond what is necessary to keep the mystery alive.  It was hard to care about anyone in this book.  Once I made the resolve to finish the book it went really fast.  The pacing was still dragging but more things were revealed, enough so to keep my interest.  But once the big reveal came - the point at which I should have been yelling, "No way!!" because I didn't actually see it coming - I just shrugged and said, "It figures."


Rach said...

Duly noted. I hate it when a book wastes my time.

Laurel said...

I read this book for book club. It was horrible. Also, I thought that the big surprise was stupid.