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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane…
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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Diane Setterfield, Bianca Amato (Reader), Jill Tanner (Reader)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,432827245 (4)4 / 1005
Member:Karrie_Leigh
Title:The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Authors:Diane Setterfield
Other authors:Bianca Amato (Reader), Jill Tanner (Reader)
Info:Simon & Schuster Audio (2006), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Own, Favorites
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

  1. 562
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (norabelle414, ladybug74, Contusions, Voracious_Reader)
    norabelle414: Both gothic novels, with a big ol' creepy house, and theme of hidden family secrets
    Voracious_Reader: Both beautiful, almost Gothic tales told through the eyes of precocious unusual young women.
  2. 501
    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (ladybug74)
  3. 372
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (brightbel, coffee.is.yum, caflores)
  4. 243
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (391)
  5. 170
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (starfishian)
  6. 141
    The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (library_gal, Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: Pretty much the same plot, secrets, family ties and tragedy set in the ancestral home.
  7. 154
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (rstaedter)
  8. 124
    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (sruszala, lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Gothic tales of devoted twin sisters, love, and death.
  9. 70
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Citizenjoyce)
    Citizenjoyce: The ambiance is the same. Both stories draw the reader in with promises of deeper mysteries to solve.
  10. 1811
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (starfishian, rmjp518, kethonna, elizabeth.a.coates)
    elizabeth.a.coates: Both centre around books/literature, both are eloquently written, both have an element of mystery
  11. 92
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (avisannschild)
  12. 93
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (julie_e_meyer)
  13. 50
    Florence and Giles by John Harding (shelfoflisa)
  14. 50
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  15. 51
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  16. 74
    The Woman in White Part One by Wilkie Collins (caflores)
  17. 30
    The Seance by John Harwood (extrajoker)
  18. 63
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (lahni)
  19. 20
    Phantom by Susan Kay (Bookmarque)
  20. 20
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These novels offer gothic suspense's classic creepy atmosphere, though with somewhat different story-lines. Fingersmith takes place in Victorian England while The Thirteenth Tale is contemporary, but both emphasize books, mysteries about birth and identity, insanity, and grand houses.… (more)

(see all 40 recommendations)

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English (789)  Spanish (7)  Italian (5)  French (4)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (3)  German (3)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (824)
Showing 1-5 of 789 (next | show all)
Very good, though it took time getting into it. It was unusual in that I didn't feel the need to rush through it, but I could pick it up after a week and remember everything I'd read. Not normal for me! ( )
  kayceel | Mar 13, 2019 |
This book has two main protagonist written in first-person both of them so sometimes it was a little difficult to distinguish. Never the less it was an excellent read. I hesitated between 3 and 4 stars because while it was well written, it still didn't hold my interest as tightly as I might have liked. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
For those who love an engrossing family drama steeped in mystery I have just the book for you: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I guarantee you'll be hooked by the third page (or perhaps even earlier). I had barely gotten a third of the way through before I was checking to see what else Setterfield had written and if I could get my grubby mitts on it. (She just released a book in December called Once Upon a River and I'm already on the library's holds list for it.)

When I was writing notes about this book after reading it I realized that I was basically regurgitating the plot because I had no idea how to sum up my feelings without divulging loads of spoilers. I'm still not entirely sure how to do it so I'll try to be as basic as I can be here. The story opens with a bookseller named Margaret Lea who upon returning to her flat finds a letter from an acclaimed author named Vida Winter. Despite being very well-read and what most would consider a true bookworm this is one author that she has never paid much mind to despite her abundance of novels and literary renown. This is rather awkward as it seems the esteemed lady wants Margaret to write her biography. There follows a meeting between the two women where Ms. Winter's true identity is revealed (no mean feat in itself as she's been dodging the truth for years with interviewers). We are then treated to some of the most amazing writing I've read in quite some time as Setterfield begins to weave a story that pulled me in hook, line, and sinker. Make no mistake, Margaret is simply the vehicle through which we are treated to the story of Vida Winter but without Margaret this book wouldn't be the well-rounded thing of beauty that it is (but it would probably still be pretty great).

The book is touted as a mystery because the reader is alongside Margaret as the story of Ms. Winter's life is slowly and inexorably revealed and she finds herself having to hold her tongue as the flow of questions becomes almost too much to bear. Who exactly is this woman? What kind of connection do twins have and can one live without the other? By hearing Vida's story will it irrevocably change the course of Margaret's life? You have to read The Thirteenth Tale to find out (or to come up with even more questions). This is one that you don't want to miss, guys. 10/10

**SPOILER ALERT** If allusions (subtle and not so subtle) of incest are too much for you to handle then you'd better give this one a miss and maybe take a look at one of her other books because Diane's writing is excellent.**SPOILER ALERT** ( )
  AliceaP | Mar 1, 2019 |
Once Upon a River was my first experience with Setterfield (and it was magical), so I went into this book a bit skeptical - how could she come close to the masterpiece that is River? Well, it's Diane, and by page 4 when the quotables started hitting, I knew I was wrong to have had even a hint of doubt. This book was so good, though the first half was heavily character-driven, so there were times when I had to push myself through. But halfway, I was hooked and speeding along wanting to see all missing pieces come together. I stayed after school a whole hour extra for no other reason than to simply finish up those last 40 pages before I headed out to run errands and go home. That's the sign of a sure 5-star. It was beautiful, and it was heartbreaking, but it was worth it. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Feb 25, 2019 |
The weather here has begun to contract. It begins its annual disassembly into the fundamentals of winter. The sun has lost its violence. Humidity has been trucked away from view. It is still warm, but just. The mornings creak and whisper, a bite in the air. It is no great secret why ghost stories maintain their currency. I simply don't care. Rattling chains and mysterious footfalls can be regarded as symbols of family secrets. Personally I don't need creepy enhancements of subterfuge: I've heard all that before, and without the moaning as well. My family history is disturbing enough without the inexplicable. Ectoplasm doesn't scare me. Sigh.

The Thirteenth Tale recalls The little Stranger. I hated that one as well. Instead of broaching class relations in postwar England, The Thirteenth Tale attempts to garner steam from the literary sleuth sub-genre: instead of the Vatican, this time it is the moors.. Imagine my surprise upon realizing how unliterary our scholar proved to be, not mention the author Diane Setterfield. Middlebrow mewling into Jane Eyre: I should've known better.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 789 (next | show all)
A family saga with Gothic overtones, dark secrets, lost twins, a tragic fire, a missing manuscript and over-obvious nods to Jane Eyre, Rebecca and The Woman in White, it reads like something a creative writing class might write as a committee, for the sole purpose of coming up with a novel that would suit a book group (and tellingly, there are "Reading Group Study Notes" at the back suggesting topics for discussion).
 
The Thirteenth Tale is not without fault. The gentle giant Aurelius is a stock character, and the ending is perhaps a little too concerned with tying up all loose ends. But it is a remarkable first novel, a book about the joy of books, a riveting multi-layered mystery that twists and turns, and weaves a quite magical spell for most of its length.
 
"The Thirteenth Tale" keeps us reading for its nimble cadences and atmospheric locales, as well as for its puzzles, the pieces of which, for the most part, fall into place just as we discover where the holes are. And yet, for all its successes -- and perhaps because of them -- on the whole the book feels unadventurous, content to rehash literary formulas rather than reimagine them.
 
A book that you wake in the middle of the night craving to get back to...Timeless, charming, a pure pleasure to read...The Thirteenth Tale is a book to savor a dozen times.
added by rainpebble | edit~The San Diego Union-Tribune
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Setterfield, Dianeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammer, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Järnebrand, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moksunen, SalmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story. -Vida Winter, Tales of Change and Desperation
Dedication
In memory

Ivy Dora and Fred Harold Morris

Corina Ethel and Ambrose Charles Setterfield
First words
It was November.
Quotations
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.
My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie. - Vida Winter
Tell me the truth.
Of course I loved books more than people. Of course I valued Jane Eye over the anonymous stranger with his hand on the lever. Of course all of Shakespeare was worth more than a human life. Of course. Unlike Miss Winter, I had been ashamed to say so.
… ten years of marriage is usually enough to cure marital affection …
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth itself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.

All children mythologize their birth...


So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

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When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.

(summary from another edition)

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