Margaret Lea is a young woman who is seriously into books. Her thing is Victorian literature, which is lucky as her father owns an antiquarian bookshop and she has helped him with his work since she was a young girl. Her mother has nothing to do with the shop and in fact has problems with depression. Margaret's relationship with her is strained and Margaret has no idea why until one day she discovers a secret about her birth.
Summoned, one day, to Yorkshire by famous author, Vida Winter, Margaret is confused as to why the author apparently wants her to write about her life when so many have tried before and been lied to by Vida. At first reluctant, Margaret decides to go and finds herself on the lonely Yorkshire moors, in a large country house that is hiding many secrets.
Miss Winter agrees to tell Margaret the truth about her life and thus begins a series of stories about the Angelfield family, specifically twins, Adeline and Emmeline, but also their mother, Isabel, and her brother, Charles, their housekeeper, the Missus, and gardener, John-the-dig. There is much to be told and huge secrets that Margaret wants to know more quickly than Miss Winter wishes to tell her. Margaret travels to the ruins of Angelfield House and senses ghosts from the past but also meets some very real people who are connected to the mystery somehow. Will she get to the bottom of it all before Miss Winter's very obvious illness reaches its ultimate conclusion?
To tell the truth this book is very difficult to explain. There are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible to talk about it without giving away spoilers. I can say the atmosphere is quite gothic without giving anything away. There are nods to authors such as The Bronte sisters, especially books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Daphne du Maurier, Wilkie Collins and Henry James and I loved that as it kept me guessing about connections... usually sending me off in the wrong direction but huge fun all the same.
This is such a good book, it really is. It would appeal in particular to anyone who likes a good mystery or a ghost story but I'm certain it would also be enjoyed by anyone who just loves a darn good read. It's certainly made me fancy rereading books such as The Woman in White and Jane Eyre, and Rebecca needs to go onto the reading list for next year too. (I can't remember if I've read that book or not.) What better than a thoroughly good read that inspires you to go on to read other really good books?
I can't seem to discover whether Diane Setterfield is writing another book. There's no mention of it anywhere but I sincerely hope she is after the success of The Thirteenth Tale. This is a seriously good writer and it would be an awful shame if all we got from her was one book. Fingers crossed that's not the case.