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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
12,513709192 (4.01)4 / 943
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, INorris, bookwormamp, m0usie, natalie_66, clue, aliceoddcabinet, PrettyNerdie
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English (672)  Spanish (7)  Finnish (4)  Swedish (4)  Italian (4)  French (4)  Norwegian (3)  German (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (707)
Showing 1-5 of 672 (next | show all)
This is the perfect-stay-at-home-on-a-rainy-day-read. A beautifully written gothic tale set in modern day England is mesmerizing until the very end.

The story starts off with Margaret who with her father is the owner of a antique bookstore. She is a novice biographer when she's asked by the famous and reclusive author Vida Winter to write her biography. Ms. Winter never gives interviews so Margaret is both excited and intrigued when she is chosen for this endeavor. Once Margaret meets the solitary author she realizes that although she was invited, her task is nothing but easy. Ms. Winter is a reluctant subject giving up very little and guarding her secrets. It is Margaret's job to dig deeper to discover the truth of this mysterious woman's past.

One of my favorite books I've read this year. If you loved Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier then I would recommend this book as it is written in a very similar style. Creepy enough for chills but not over the top. A thoroughly satisfying read.

How I acquired this book: Purchased at Book Passage, San Francisco

Shelf life: Approximately a year and a half ( )
  missjomarch | Jun 21, 2015 |
I had to keep reading this book once I had started it. I thought it was exquisitely written, all sorts of details were included, some of them a bit nasty. I felt it had a flavour of 'Jane Eyre' about it, although the book is not about the life story of the bookish narrator, but rather her investigation into the writer of the 'Thirteen Tales', Vida Winter. It includes a big old house, creepy twins and many secrets. It is suitably dark and gothic, I enjoyed it very much. ( )
  AmiloFinn | Jun 13, 2015 |
I was originally drawn to this book because of its cover. The story inside was also interesting enough to result in wanting to read the whole day to finish it - not in a desperate Hunger Games way but in a pleasant "I enjoy this story" kind of way. There were plenty of twists and turns, some obvious, some a little less so. Slightly confusing section in the ending but I think that was because I was reading too much into it. ( )
  eesti23 | Jun 6, 2015 |
Intriguing stories, interwoven in a beautiful way. Excellent characters. Some incredibly gorgeous settings, and beautiful writing. I loved this.
My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People. ( )
  hotforcool | Jun 5, 2015 |
My feelings about this book are mixed. On the one hand, I found it to be an engrossing read, and I enjoyed the immersion in Setterfield's melancholy world of strange characters, suspended in an indeterminate time. The novel gave plenty of fodder for the imagination, and the prose was vivid without overdescribing. The plot itself fulfilled the promise of a rich "tale" with mysterious events and surprising twists.

On the other hand, you will not find realism here. As you read the book, you have to give yourself over to the strange poetry of the story, even if it has little in common with how real people think or behave. For example, one of the first statements penned by the famed author Vida Winter is, "All children mythologize their birth." This is not true in the real world, but in the peculiar world of this book, it is. You must suspend disbelief as you read about strangely passive, resigned, or disturbed characters who live in a half-dreamy state, surrounded by odd goings-on.

The author clearly loves books, and much of the action revolves around libraries, bookshops, and classic novels like Jane Eyre. Well-written though it is, The Thirteenth Tale is no Jane Eyre - it won't teach you anything about human nature or give new insights into social issues; it is simply a good story that will entertain. ( )
  teaholic | May 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 672 (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 …
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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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