Monday, December 7, 2009

Book on the Side: Week 4

How is your reading of The Thirteenth Tale going? Are you still in the first section, "Beginnings" (pages 3-143)? Have you reached "Middles" (pages 147-344)? Or have you reached "Endings" (pages 347-406)? What do you think of the way the story is broken up?

Since we haven't heard from any of you yet (& your comments are always welcome & appreciated!), let's discuss "Beginnings". The first chapter, "The Letter", introduces both main characters. What did you think of Vida Winter from her letter?

The second chapter is "Margaret's Story", which really sets the tone of the narration, brings up themes that will reoccur & resonate later. Margaret says 'I am not a proper biographer'. Do you think that statement applies to her own story, or just to the biographical studies she writes?

After that comes "Thirteen Tales", which is about Vida Winter's writing. Do you find Margaret's descriptions of the books interesting? Do the titles of Vida Winter's books & stories sound intriguing or dull? What do you think of Margaret's assertion 'I read old novels. The reason is simple: I prefer proper endings'--do you agree or disagree?

"Arrival" is a short chapter that introduces Judith, Vida Winter's housekeeper, & takes us to Vida Winter's house. Following that is "Meeting Miss Winter", "And So We Began...", "Gardens", "Merrily and the Perambulator", "Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley", and "Dickens's Study", the bulk of which is taken up with Vida Winter's story. What do you make of the Angelfield household? What do you think of Vida Winter as a storyteller? Do you see some of the traditional Gothic themes represented in her story: the supernatural; death; decay; madness; secrets; & hereditary curses?

These are just some of the things I thought about while reading the book. What's your take? Let us know what you think!

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