Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Thirteenth Tale (2006)

by Diane Setterfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,099883272 (3.99)4 / 1048
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.
  1. 592
    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. 521
    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (ladybug74)
  3. 392
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (brightbel, coffee.is.yum, caflores)
  4. 253
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (391)
  5. 160
    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. 164
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (rstaedter)
  8. 101
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (avisannschild)
  9. 124
    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (sruszala, lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Gothic tales of devoted twin sisters, love, and death.
  10. 1811
    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
  11. 70
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Citizenjoyce)
    Citizenjoyce: The ambiance is the same. Both stories draw the reader in with promises of deeper mysteries to solve.
  12. 50
    Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Isolated old ladies benefit by telling their stories to younger women.
  13. 61
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  14. 50
    Florence and Giles by John Harding (shelfoflisa)
  15. 105
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (julie_e_meyer)
  16. 50
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  17. 73
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (lahni)
  18. 84
    The Woman in White Part One by Wilkie Collins (caflores)
  19. 30
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These novels offer gothic suspense's classic creepy atmosphere, though with somewhat different story-lines. Fingersmith takes place in Victorian England while The Thirteenth Tale is contemporary, but both emphasize books, mysteries about birth and identity, insanity, and grand houses.… (more)
  20. 20
    The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh (ForeignCircus)

(see all 41 recommendations)

to get (11)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (838)  Spanish (8)  Italian (6)  French (4)  Swedish (4)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (3)  Norwegian (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (876)
Showing 1-5 of 838 (next | show all)
  archivomorero | Jun 25, 2022 |
Miss Vida Winter, a writer has spent 6 decades not only writing stories but also creating stories in the midst of answering interview questions from reporters. Vida has her own reasons for sidestepping questions with stories. But a reporter from the Banbury Herald has haunted her as he had simply asked her to tell him the truth.

Miss Margaret Lea works at Lea’s Antiquarian Booksellers with her father. It is primarily a place to read. Margaret prefers to read old novels rather than contemporary or a mixture. Her hobby is writing biographical essays giving life again to the individuals with fame so fleeting and long since forgotten.

Vida has written Margaret an intriguing letter asking for her presence at Angelfield House in Oxfordshire. As Vida has made specific arrangements for this visit to her residence Margaret has actually been summoned. Vida is ready to tell the truth to Margaret. Margaret hasn’t even read any of Vida Winter’s books. Margaret doesn’t write biographies of the living.

Will Vida Winter tell the truth if Margaret Lea accepts the invitation?

This is a mesmerizing read that captivates attention from the first sentence to the last. To realize this gothic tale, haunting and gripping, beautifully written as a story within a story, is Diane Setterfield’s debut novel is extraordinary.

My favorite quote of the novel appeared early. After reading Vida Winter’s letter, Margaret Lea shares: "There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic." Of the letter Margaret said, "For I was spellbound. Of Diane Setterfield’s novel, I was spellbound.

Book clubs will appreciate the "Discussion Points" available at the end of the novel. There is also guidance within "Enhance Your Book Club Experience that may be utilized to enhance the experience of all readers of the novel. Not to be missed is "A Conversation with Diane Setterfield" providing fascinating answers of her own to interview questions. ( )
  FerneMysteryReader | Jun 14, 2022 |
A new favorite, kindred book. I devoured this one in just two days. I couldn't get enough of the story, and the story within, and they way the two unfolded and intertwined. It has everything: romance, ghosts, scandal... I found it to be brilliant, and absolutely didn't want it to end. ( )
  liannecollins | Jun 10, 2022 |
A very good, modern (although the time setting is somewhat vague) semi-gothic sort of read with mysterious goings-on at an decaying estate, odd twins, faithful servants, an extraordinarily competent governess, mad women and questions of identity---all that good stuff. Themes of abandonment, loss, isolation, longing for love. A ghost or two. Maybe. I enjoyed it mightily.
2014 ( )
2 vote laytonwoman3rd | May 24, 2022 |
A world-famous but enigmatic novelist finally wants to tell her life story. She asks an antique bookseller to be her biographer. The bookseller has never read anything by the novelist, has little writing experience herself, and is dubious about the novelist's intentions. Why would a celebrated author need the help of this mousy young woman?

The first third of this modern gothic mystery is a wonderful, sprawling discovery of fascinating people, meticulously organized bookshelves, and countryside estates. The sumptuous prose takes its time to describe the world without ever lingering too long. The audiobook narrators use their rich, tremulous British accents to make the characters feel real.

The second third is just plot. It’s a decent plot about neglect, loneliness, grief, and insanity, but I missed the feeling of being swept off my feet.

I thought I would end up disliking the book, but the final third captivated me again with its emotional denouement. A few readers may predict how things out, but most will be surprised and satisfied. ( )
1 vote KGLT | May 2, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 838 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Setterfield, Dianeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammer, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henshall, RuthieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Järnebrand, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moksunen, SalmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Redgrave, LynnReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Heyne (40549)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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 …
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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.

Haiku summary
The bond between twins
Long-held family secrets
A ruined old house

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.99)
0.5 7
1 54
1.5 12
2 263
2.5 67
3 930
3.5 306
4 2010
4.5 289
5 1736

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,671,693 books! | Top bar: Always visible