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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
12,272686207 (4.01)4 / 913
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)

  1. 541
    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. 50
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  16. 40
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  17. 62
    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  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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English (650)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Italian (4)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (3)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (682)
Showing 1-5 of 650 (next | show all)
The Thirteenth Tale is certainly an absorbing story in one way -- and I prefer it to Bellman & Black, as people told me I probably would -- but now I'm finished I'm left feeling a little bit cheated. The mysteries shook out more or less as I expected; the creepy gothic air never quite worked for me, because it's very much a homage to books which are rather a lot better; the hints of supernatural stuff and ghosts never convinced me... And so on. I could see what it was trying to do, and if I tried hard enough, I could bury myself in it, but it never quite swept me away.

That said, I read it in more or less two massive chunks, and it certainly keeps the pages turning despite the slow pace to it. The stuff that's obviously meant to appeal to bookworms, that sensation of reading something so bright and fresh and alive as Vida Winter's work is supposed to be, she captures something of that enchantment, I think. I actually smiled a bit at the narrator's stuff surrounding reading -- yep, I've sat up with a book so long it accidentally got round to morning again, without even realising, and was stupid and clumsy the next day with sleepiness; yep, when I've been reading intensely all day, somehow I'm just not hungry, like the words have filled me up.

There's very little more insipid than the narrator's character, though. I've forgotten her name. I remember her twin's name, but not hers. Set against her, maybe Vida Winter's story can't help but be fascinating. ( )
  shanaqui | Nov 23, 2014 |
I'm not quite sure what I think of this book. Time will tell in the long run. I'll have to see if I'd like to be in this world again.

When I finished the novel I didn't have that feeling like something dramatic has happened, like you often get when you've finished a book that really touches you. However, I also didn't feel like there were still questions to be answered, Setterfield really tied everything up nicely. I'm just not sure if the mystery was tied up as well I would would have liked.

Despite my lack of conviction about the total of the book, I did enjoy reading it and really had a tough time putting it down. ( )
  sscarllet | Nov 20, 2014 |
I really enjoyed reading this book, but then it does have the dressings I love in a spooky story - decaying old mansion, bizarre family, plenty of mysteries and secrets and good writing. I wasn't too sure about the ending, perhaps because it felt like a rabbit was pulled out of the hat at the last minute, and it needed slightly more to it. Can't say what; there was just a niggling feeling at the end. What I did like was that the author gave a kind of epilogue, wrapping up what happened to the 'bit part' players - even the cat. As she rightly says, usually a reader will never find out such things, so this was an amusing little finale.

In a way, 'The Thirteenth Tale' reminded me of Tanith Lee's 'Colouring Book' series, in that the characters have a sort of 'Lee' feel to them and the story forks off down rather dark and unexpected avenues.

On the strength of reading this, I'm looking forward to reading the author's next book. ( )
  Storm_Constantine | Nov 11, 2014 |
One of the reviews refers to this as a book for book lovers. I concur. It's beautifully written, haunting, and engaging. I highly recommend to anyone who loves books. ( )
  hollishter | Nov 10, 2014 |
This book was not at all what I anticipated. While I was thinking modern day fairy tale, it was more of the telling of a life story, leaving you to decide what the truth was. I enjoyed it and recommend it. ( )
  shannanwithana | Oct 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 650 (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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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.

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