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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
12,949740177 (4)4 / 957
Member:writestuff
Title:The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Authors:Diane Setterfield
Info:Atria (2006), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:Literary Fiction, MUST READ, Gothic Literature

Work details

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)

Recently added byprivate library, setherfan91, kanamine, SaraNoH, ellohull, CatThing, Claudia.Anderson, INorris
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English (703)  Spanish (7)  Italian (4)  Swedish (4)  French (4)  Norwegian (3)  German (3)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (737)
Showing 1-5 of 703 (next | show all)
This novel is a book lover's dream; it's lush, gorgeously written, and the way the author lovingly talks about reading and the power of books makes you want to curl up with this unique novel even more. Margaret Lea, a book lover of the highest order and part time antiquarian book dealer and amateur biographer, finds a mysterious note. It turns out to be from the world's most famous living author, Vida Winter. Margaret is stunned, she has never even read one of Vida's 50+ novels, and how on earth does Vida even know who she is? Vida knows she is reaching the end of her life and she wants to set the record straight. For years, she has spun tales about her life, fearful for people to peer too closely in at her. However, now she is ready to get it off her chest, so she asks Margaret to be her biographer and thus begins a complex tale of deceit, mental health issues, and overall a most peculiar childhood where nothing is as it seems. Once you get started reading this there is no stopping, you have to barrel along to the end where even more surprises wait. A complex, beautiful, and haunting read. I can't wait to discuss this with my book club! ( )
  ecataldi | Feb 4, 2016 |
Fun Goth-Lit with lots of nods to Austen, Bronte, etc... Redgrave does a nice job along with her counterpart on the audio (forgot her name, sorry). ( )
  BooksForDinner | Feb 3, 2016 |
Complicated, twisty, gothic, dark. Miss Winter's character was mesmerizing. Maybe I will come back later and rate it a five. I struggle with granting them. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Excellent. A homage to Emily Bronte and Daphne de Maurier in a tale all it's own. ( )
  ellenuw | Jan 27, 2016 |
This is a strangely fascinating book. I listened to it first on audiobook, and I wish I hadn't. I have a hard time paying attention to audiobooks, so when the mystery was revealed I was completely taken by surprise. When I read the book, I couldn't help but wonder if I would have guessed it if I'd read it first.

I call this book strangely fascinating because it's kind of "messed up." One of the main characters is very melodramatic -- reads a lot of Austen, etc. and thinks she is one of them too. It's not a comedy, by any means. More dark or gothic. There are definitely disturbing elements, though nothing particularly graphic. I would recommend this to someone who doesn't mind references or allusions to pretty disturbing stuff (not descriptions) and enjoys a mystery, though this is not a mystery in the traditional sense. An aging author is, for the first time, telling her life's story, and you try to figure out what's going on. Very good! ( )
  SaraMSLIS | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 703 (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, 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 …
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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