“There are cultures in which it is believed that a name contains all a person’s mystical power. That a name should be known only to God and to the person who holds it and to very few privileged others. To pronounce such a name, either one’s own or someone else’s, is to invite jeopardy. This, it seemed, was such a name.” – Page 52, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
“I shall start at the beginning. Though of course the beginning is never where you think it is. Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born…. Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs. Impossible to touch one part of it without setting the rest vibrating. Impossible to understand one part without having a sense of the whole.”
“A birth is not really a beginning. Our lives at the start are not really our own but only the continuation of someone else’s story. Take me, for instance. To look at me now, you would think my birth must have been something special, wouldn’t you? Accompanied by strange portents, and attended by witches and fairy godmothers. But no. Not a bit of it. In fact, when I was born I was no more than a subplot. – Page 58, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
“I needed a lost language. One in which I could communicate with the lost. I used to write one special word over and over again. My sister’s name. A talisman. I folded the word into elaborate miniature origami, kept my pleat of paper always close to me.” – Page 252, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
“All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes—characters even—caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you. Well, it was like that. All day I had been prey to distractions. Thoughts, memories, feelings, irrelevant fragments of my own life, playing havoc with my concentration.”
– Page 289-290, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
“I used to think I loved rain, but in fact I hardly knew it. The rain I loved was genteel town rain, made soft by all the obstacles the skyline put in its path, and warmed by the rising heat of the town itself. On the moors, enraged by the wind and embittered by the chill, the rain was vicious. Needles of ice stung my face and, behind me, vessels of freezing water burst against my shoulders.
Page 291, The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield