October 2011

Wine and Words Book Club Minutes – 10-26-10 – by Sandie

The meeting was held at Jan’s home and Sandie, Cindy, Linda, Pat, Karen, Ann, Jan and Kathy were present.

After a lovely dinner of chicken chili soup, green salad and apple crisp (provided by Linda), we had a lively discussion of the book selection for October, The Thirteenth Tale. There was some confusion over the characters and events in the book, so here is a synopsis of the plot found on the internet:

Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale is a mystery told in a story-within-a-story format. The framing device revolves around Margaret, a bibliophile and occasional biographer who works in a bookstore. One day, Margaret is contacted by the prolific writer Vida Winter, who asks her to write her biography. Vida is a successful novelist who has repeatedly invented outlandish stories about her background, adding significant mystique to the successful writer’s career. When Vita hires Margaret, she makes it clear that she will retain full control of the project.

The majority of the novel takes place in the past as Vita regales Margaret with the true story of her youth. In addition, Margaret does some amateur sleuthing of her own in light of Vita’s tendency to alter the truth. Vita reveals that she is actually Adeline Angelfield, who grew up in highly unorthodox circumstances on a country estate. The twins were the product of Isabelle, a disturbed woman who is eventually committed to an asylum, and Roland, her ineffectual husband. Also living on the grounds are Isabelle’s volatile and violent brother Charlie; John-the-dig, the groundskeeper; and the Missus, the elderly housekeeper who eventually develops dementia. The divergent nature of the twins is revealed during an extended sequence in which a governess is hired in an attempt to bring order to the household. Despite her efforts, she is unable to make progress with the wild Adeline and the withdrawn (and possibly challenged) Emmeline.

Margaret eventually uncovers that Adeline and Emmeline were likely the product of an incestuous relationship between Isabelle and Charlie. Furthermore, there was a third child, born out of Charlie’s rape of a nearby woman. Vita reveals that she is actually this child, not Adeline, and was kept hidden in the house much of the time. When seen, she was often mistaken for Adeline because they looked so similar and were close in age. The action climaxes when Adeline starts a fire and Vita is only able to rescue one of the twins. Since the surviving twin is badly burned, Vita is never sure which one died in the fire. At the end of her story, both Vita and her half-sister die. The novel ends with Margaret making peace with her own ghost: a conjoined twin who died after they were born.

Other discussions were about the author, Diane Setterfield, and several books members are reading, The Flanders Panel, Cutting for Stone, The Help. Jan’s Rabbit’s Foot Fern was appreciated by all.

The next meeting will be at the Bellweather at 4:30 PM on Nov. 30, where we will celebrate the holiday season with happy hour cocktails and hors d ‘oeuvres while discussing the book for November, Little Bee, by Chris Cleave.