Rating: 4.75 ★★★★★
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Gothic, About Books
“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.”
I wasn’t expecting to love this book, not like this... This was one hell of a surprise. I was hooked from page one by the beautiful words of Miss Setterfield and I was held captive till the last page. I devoured it in two days and my family thought I was insane, I would find quite spots around the house because they took me out of the story. The mystery was so compelling and the atmosphere engulfed me…
We follow Margaret Lea the biographer/bookstore manager as she encounters a letter one day from a very prolific and very private author Vida Winter. The letter asks Margaret whether she would like to compose Ms Vida’ biography but the problem is Ms Vida has been known to evade the truth and she is very sceptical about the whole idea but the need to find the truth will take her into one disturbing past, one disturbing family saga with dark secrets and complex family tree.
It was thrilling and a celebration of literature that features weird family dynamics, complex characters, gothic scenery and beautiful storytelling, to say the least.
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
I was already blown away by the beautiful writing by page 3 and I had to tab the pages like crazy. I couldn’t put the book down after that, the feeling I got from reading this book was similar to The Shadow Of The Wind (HERE) A story within a story that will shock you at every chapter. It also includes tonnes of literary references from Jane Eyer to Sherlock Holmes.
“Of course I loved books more than people.”
I was so ready to give this book a 4-star rating but I was caught off guard towards the end and everything was wrapped up neatly. So, if you are in the mood for a book that has beautiful writing, a strong storytelling voice, family saga, a gripping thrill as well as a wonderful atmosphere (almost fairy-tale like) look no further 🙂 It also features and discusses the different form of mental illness.
If you have read this tell me what you thought of it…
“There are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere.”