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I am knitting...loads actually, but once again it is for a publisher. So totally confidential! In the meantime let me entertain you with another book review...

I have just finished a book called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It is a Gothic thriller in the style of a Bronte novel, or the Turn of The Screw. Secrets of birth, hidden characters within a decaying building and a narrator with a secret of her own. I couldn't put this book down, and although at first I was worried that the author would be deliberately creating a modern novel that is a rip off of a Bronte, I have to say she did it very well with no excuses and there were many little pointers within this novel to all her influences. This book being of the 21st Century, was witty and cynical in a way you would not expect in a Ninteenth Century novel, and not all sub-plots have happy endings. My only criticism, is that there were one or two characters that to me felt empty, and also, I could not get a sense of the narrator. She too seemed to be empty, ageless and unemotional despite succumbing to an illness at some point that my other half likes to call "Non specific Victorian fever' which in a Nineteenth century is nearly always semi fatal but not quite so dramatic here. The narrator of this story is no Jane Eyre, she does not seem to be sentimental or romantic despite carrying her secret.

Do read this though, I loved the writing, here is a little snippet that drew me in just as I was about to put the book down to go to sleep at 1am, it kept me up until gone 3 am:

"Come Back!" she cried
"I am going to tell you a story - a marvellous story!"

I did not stop
"Once upon a time there was a haunted house...."
I reached the door. My fingers closed on the handle.

"Once upon a time there was a library...."

I opened the door and was about to step into its emptiness when in a voice hoarse with something like fear, she stopped me in my tracks.

"Once upon a time there were
twins -"
I waited until the words stopped ringing in the air and then despite myself, I looked back

The style in which the inner narrator tells a story to our narrator is very potent, it has all the brooding darkness of a Grimm's fairytale, it makes your skin prickle with its foreboding, and I can't explain why the fear of something being revealed is so much worse than the actual events.

This also reminded me of how much I was influenced by Jane Eyre as a child. I saw the film with Elizabeth Taylor as Jane a long time before I read the book, and was totally haunted myself with the mad woman hidden within the house. In fact, at the age of 6, I put on my mother's wig, my mother's dressing gown and came down the stairs and acted as a different but disturbed person to my poor little brother only aged about 3 or 4 at the time. He honestly believed that we had a secret mad sister living upstairs in our home in Cyprus! Years later, my mother shocked me by saying that she had given birth to a daughter before me, and that meant I had a secret older sister. She never told my brother. She died. I told my brother a couple of years ago, and had so little reaction from it, I am convinced that he thought I was inventing it again just as I did when we were children!
I don't normally talk of personal stuff on the blog, but that was so relevant to the book I could not help myself. We all have secrets, every one of us an our stories in the right hands could be penned as a Gothic horror!

And Skeinspotted!

We knitters always like a good spotting of a bit of knitting, whether it is worn knitwear or actual knitting activity within a film or a book. Often it annoys us, because it will be the quintessential old granny clicking her needles, or someone really nerdy and the knitting adds to their lack of appeal. We tut, we sigh, they just don't understand and have not caught up we think. Anyway, The Thirteenth Tale has a very good bit of knitting. One of the characters, who is a fairytale like grandmother or kindly with baking and knitting, finds her knitting takes on more significance than she would care to see:

"So it bothered me, that night of the pitch black sky, to find that I had [accidentally] knitted a second heel. Once I'd done it and lost my young man. Twice and I'd lost my sister. Now a third time. I had no-one left to lose. There was only me now. I looked at the sock. Grey wool. A plain thing. It was meant for me................................I set to unravelling the extra heel. What was the point of that you might wonder. Well I didn't want to be found with it....I imagined them saying 'They found her with her knitting in her lap and guess what? She'd turned the heel twice!' I didn't want them saying that and so undid it"

Thought that might amuse those of you who are book lovers and knitters!

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