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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane…

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Diane Setterfield

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,170681207 (4.01)4 / 906
Title:The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Authors:Diane Setterfield
Info:Washington Square Press (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

  1. 531
    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. 470
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (ladybug74)
  3. 361
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (brightbel, coffee.is.yum, caflores)
  4. 211
    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. 144
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (rstaedter)
  8. 101
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (avisannschild)
  9. 92
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (julie_e_meyer)
  10. 104
    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (sruszala, lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Gothic tales of devoted twin sisters, love, and death.
  11. 1510
    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
  12. 61
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (lahni)
  13. 50
    Florence and Giles by John Harding (shelfoflisa)
  14. 50
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Citizenjoyce)
    Citizenjoyce: The ambiance is the same. Both stories draw the reader in with promises of deeper mysteries to solve.
  15. 40
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  16. 62
    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  17. 40
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  18. 63
    The Woman in White, Vol. 1 by Wilkie Collins (caflores)
  19. 30
    The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh (ForeignCircus)
  20. 30
    Phantom by Susan Kay (Bookmarque)

(see all 32 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 646 (next | show all)
Every now and then I re-read something because I don't look back in my LibraryThing listings to check and see IF maybe I have read or listened to the book before. This is one where I did it again---must be my brain---eeekkk....but I LOVED it this time and didn't remember the previous listening experience at all. As the person in the story explains, she wants a book to be complete when she's reading and that's exactly what the author does, having this same character answer questions she thinks the reader might have---perfect. ( )
  nyiper | Oct 18, 2014 |
This novel turned out to be a very intriguing story, although it did test my endurance. The story is of a young woman, Margaret Lea, who works in a bookshop with her dad. One day she is beckoned by a reclusive dying writer, Vida Winter, to write the author's biography. She is chosen by the novelist because they are both twins, a theme carried throughout this novel.

The story is long and detailed. Its draw is that it has gothic elements and labyrinthine plot twists. I admit to having been a bit bogged down and confused midway through this novel. However, the ending was fascinating and noteworthy. It pulled all of the elements of this fascinating story into a satisfying conclusion and was well worth my time.

I am thoroughly impressed that this intricate story is a debut novel. What an auspicious beginning! I hope there is more to come from Diane Setterfield, such a satisfying writer. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Oct 11, 2014 |
A Gothic tale about a famous author engaging an unexpected autobiographer to tell the mysterious, and possibly true, story about her life and about death, loneliness, loss, and twins. An interesting premise of mysterious people in a mysterious house is a great start for a Gothic novel and Setterfield makes a lot, if not the most, of her idea. The style is just a little too meandering for my taste and I can't get myself to believe in the link between Vida and Margaret, or rather that Vida would have understood Margaret's whole history from her brochure (or perhaps that's the actual ghost part?). Still, the story kept me turning the pages and I did absolutely want to find out how all these people were actually connected in the end. The "thirteenth tale" part was a nice little twist as well. For a debut novel, it's a nice achievement and although it reminded me more of Flowers in the Attic than classic fiction, it did make me want to read Jane Eyre very soon. ( )
  -Eva- | Sep 26, 2014 |
Facing the end of her life, best-selling author Vida Winter selects Margaret Lea, a bookseller's assistant and amateur biographer, to write her life story. There's a big problem. Ms. Winter has lots of life stories. She's famous for telling a different version of her history each time she's interviewed. Are any of them true? Or are none of them true? Ms. Winter obviously has secrets, but so does Margaret. As she listens to Ms. Winter's story, Margaret discovers more about her own story.

The novel has a timeless feel, set somewhere in the 20th century but before computers and cell phones became household items. The elements of Ms. Winter's story and Margaret's love of 19th century novels contribute to the novel's Gothic atmosphere. Most readers will want to rush through the book on first picking it up to learn the answer to the questions raised by Ms. Winter's story. Once their curiosity is satisfied, many readers will want to revisit the novel more slowly to analyze the symbolism and structure of the novel, and to reflect on the questions it raises about life, death, truth, family, friendship, and the power of stories. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Sep 21, 2014 |
Wow, just wow. ( )
  ChewDigest | Sep 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 646 (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
Diane Setterfieldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amato, BiancaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammer, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Järnebrand, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moksunen, SalmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
In memory

Ivy Dora and Fred Harold Morris

Corina Ethel and Ambrose Charles Setterfield
First words
It was November.
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.

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