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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,243813245 (4)4 / 993
Member:akfreeborn
Title:The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Authors:Diane Setterfield
Info:Atria (2006), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work details

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

Recently added bycomfypants, ckey, Mandane75, rena75, private library, kallewis, VillageGrandeCC, eloquinn, AFaith
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Showing 1-5 of 776 (next | show all)
When I reviewed Bellman & Black, some years ago, several of you urged me to go back and read Diane Setterfield’s earlier novel The Thirteenth Tale. And so I have! You see, I do listen. It just takes me five years… And it was worth the wait, for I thoroughly enjoyed it. Setterfield weaves a modern Gothic tale full of mystery and tragedy, spiced with congenital madness, the crumbling rooms of a remote old house, and twins. Better still, it has a genuine bibliophile as the heroine and a reclusive writer as its enigmatic object. In fact, the whole story is a love letter to the power of fiction, which can sweep us away from the world around us, provide a retreat in hard times, and even transform our own pasts...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2018/08/20/the-thirteenth-tale-diane-setterfield/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Nov 6, 2018 |
4.5 stars ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
This book started out great. I was enjoying the writing and the characters. Then the Angelfields were introduced. "Politeness is overrated." I am dealing with an a**h*** that feels that is true. I don't need to read about that type of person while I am doing my best to avoid the same in the real world. Horrible.
6/16/2014; 11,978 members; 4.01 average rating ( )
  mainrun | Sep 29, 2018 |
This one perplexes me. While it contains all the ingredients for an engaging Gothic thriller—deep, dark secrets; family intrigue; a remote setting in the British countryside; bleak weather; ghosts (whether real or imagined); and a curious narrator—all of these elements added up to less than the sum of their parts. Something crucial is lacking.

I suspect that the vital ingredient that’s missing from the mix is any threat to or sense of endangerment for the narrator. Margaret Lea, who dutifully records (and simultaneously investigates) the murky history of Miss Vida Winters—who has hired her for the task—is never truly imperiled. Yes, she senses ghosts, but these ghosts do not frighten her; they merely haunt her past and make her melancholy over the death of her infant twin sister. And she dutifully faints or contracts a fever intermittently, but at no point in the story do we fear for her life or her mental health. As a narrator and guide she’s intrepid and thorough, but she’s also rather disengaged; perhaps it’s because, as she plainly admits, she finds books far more interesting than people. Alas, the same cannot be said for this particular book, which never quite lives up to its potential. ( )
  jimrgill | Sep 24, 2018 |
I expected more. More interest, more excitement. Less navel-peering, less "woe is me." ( )
  sraelling | Sep 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 776 (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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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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