The Thirteenth Tale

I just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale pictured above. Border’s practically paid me to buy it, sending me 40% off coupons every time I opened my email.

The plot involves a woman biographer, grieving over the loss of her twin sister, whose life is interwoven with a famous writer’s story involving twins yet again. Called to the writer’s side, as she is slowly dying, the tale unfolds with great mystery, sorrow, and empathy for one another.

In my classroom, I have the children make “text to text” connections. In other words, “Of what other books does this one remind you?” I felt bombarded with connections as I read this, although the book is unique at its core. Some titles that come to mind are these:

“Running With Scissors” because the family dynamics are so bizarre and dysfunctional.

“The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” because of the pervasive grief of the mother over a twin baby’s loss and the implications it has in a family.

“Harry Potter” because of the English setting, and the benevolent giant in The Thirteenth Tale (Aurelius) reminds me somewhat of Hagrid.

“Rebecca” because something sinister is lurking in the house, upon which you can’t quite place your finger until the end of the book.

“The Shadow of The Wind” because of the characters’ love of books, and the way that a father and child devour them together.

The premise of this book is that “everybody has a story.” While reading the character Vida Winter’s story, we are compelled to examine our own, even if the tendency has been to push away the sorrowful bits.

Vida asks Margaret, the biographer called to her bedside, for her story in this excerpt: “…everybody has a story. When are you going to tell me yours?”

“I’m not.”

She put her head to one side and waited for me to go on.

“I’ve never told anyone my story. If I’ve got one, that is. And I can’t see any reason to change now.”

“I see, she said softly, nodding her head as though she really did. “Well, it’s your business, of course.” She turned her hand in her lap and stared into her damaged palm. “You are at liberty to say nothing, if that is what you want. But silence is not a natural environment for stories. They need words. Without them they grow pale, sicken and die. And then they haunt you.” Her eyes swiveled back to me. “Believe me, Margaret. I know.”

This is a haunting story, made more so when we uncover our own. It ends my third book for the R.I.P. Challenge.

22 thoughts on “The Thirteenth Tale

  1. I'll be reading this soon. :)Regarding Text-to-Text connections: Do you do Reading and Writing Workshop? And if so, have you found that it has enhanced your personal reading and writing? I LOVE SCHOOL!


  2. joy, it seems that I have done Reading and Writing workshop without knowing it when I was a child; even then I always wrote about what I read, or copied down favorite quotes in a notebook. Then, my Masters degree is in Whole Language (we all know what a popular thing that is!) which actually had some very good things to say about improving a child's literacy. With my own son, I had him write about his day, then read it back to me, and it helped his spelling/comprehension/fluency/vocabulary tremendously! I, too, love school.les, I just ordered The Book Thief, which came in Friday at school. It has a strange beginning, n'est ce pas? Of course, I left it on my desk over the weekend, and last night I picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Oh. My. Gosh. You all HAVE to read that sometime, I cannot but it down. It's a bajillion (third grade vocab) times better than The Thirteen Tale. To me. Anyway, I join you in The Book Thief, which I'll continue at school.Bookfool, despite all the hype, I think there are better books out there. Don't get me wrong, it's intriguing. But to me it wasn't the end all be all of a good read.


  3. I'm going to be reading THE BOOK THIEF with a book club for November. I'm looking forward to that too!JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL??? Okay…I'll look into that one as well! You said that in such a way that makes it too hard to resist. 🙂


  4. booklogged, I didn't see your comment before I responded to joy's; I think we were making them at the same time. I find that making text-to-text connections, as well as text-to-self and text-to-world, helps the readers in my room fully understand what they are reading. It certainly helps me absorb more, anyway. I'm glad you could see Hagrid, like I did.I hope you receive your Stardust copy soon; California Teacher Guy said his arrived Saturday, and I mailed them at the same time, so be ready. 🙂


  5. bookfool, I enjoyed the mystery and it's resolution. It's just that for me, the resolution wasn't that powerful. Not like Possession, or Rebecca, anyway. It was just, well, fine…I'll be waiting to hear what your thoughts are when you finish it.


  6. I just bought this last night at Borders (see my blog for a summary of the bad grown-up behavior I observed while there) on your recommendation. Didn't realize there was a twin component. Maybe you would like The Girls by Lori Lansens about conjoined twins. Very well done.


  7. Andrews writes a lot of complicated (and a bit creepy) relationships. Back in high school, I remember her books being very popular. Though I only recently read a few. They are very well written, you definitely want to know what happens to the girls.. it sucks you in to the story. But the books are a little too dark for my taste.Her most famous "Flowers in the Attic" reminds me so much of The Thirteenth Tale. Very creepy and disturbing.


  8. Glad you enjoyed it. It was such an amazing book to discover and one that I am so thankful that I read right away. Although I enjoy all of what I read there are some books, like this one, that are just a cut above.


  9. What made it a cut above, although only by a hair's breadth, for me was the way the mystery was such an intricately woven tapestry. I also really enjoyed the English setting/vocabulary. But, I still think it had too much hype in my opinion. Maybe something can't live up to such enormous expectations.


  10. I felt like I got in just under the hype machine. I had heard really good things but only a few before I read it. For me, after the first couple of pages, it just turned into perfection. It was just the right book to read for this time of year.


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