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.