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The Thirteenth Tale (2006)

by Diane Setterfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,253911295 (3.99)4 / 1086
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. 531
    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. 170
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (starfishian)
  6. 174
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (rstaedter)
  7. 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.
  8. 101
    The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (avisannschild)
  9. 1911
    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
  10. 124
    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (sruszala, lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Gothic tales of devoted twin sisters, love, and death.
  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
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  13. 50
    Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Isolated old ladies benefit by telling their stories to younger women.
  14. 61
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  15. 50
    Florence and Giles by John Harding (shelfoflisa)
  16. 105
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (julie_e_meyer)
  17. 84
    The Woman in White Part One by Wilkie Collins (caflores)
  18. 73
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (lahni)
  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)

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» See also 1086 mentions

English (868)  Spanish (10)  Italian (6)  Swedish (4)  French (4)  Catalan (3)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Norwegian (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (908)
Showing 1-5 of 868 (next | show all)
"Reading can be dangerous." Thus [a:Diane Setterfield|22665|Diane Setterfield|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1255913779p2/22665.jpg] writes on page four of [b:The Thirteenth Tale|19673922|The Thirteenth Tale|Diane Setterfield|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1387723998s/19673922.jpg|849453]. Too right. So dangerous, in fact, that the reader may lose all track of time and forget to get off at the right train station, or empty the washing machine, or feed the cats, or go to sleep.

One dark, rainy November evening in Cambridge, Margaret Lea comes home to find a letter waiting for her. Margaret leads a solitary life writing the odd historical literary biography and working with her father in his antiquarian bookshop. She doesn't read contemporary fiction, so she is perplexed as to why Vida Winters, Britain's most celebrated living author, is writing to her of all people.

What follows is nothing short of magical. Setterfield weaves stories within stories as we learn more about Margaret and the mysterious author, and the history of ruined Angelfield House. Angelfield, with its gardens, ghosts and vast library. Violent Charlie, his intriguing sister Isabelle, and the strange emerald-eyed twins with their long coppery hair. What happened to this family? How was their ancestral home destroyed? And what does it all have to do with Vida Winters?

This is a book for those of you who love stories, for whom people in books are as real in your minds as your family. It grabs hold of you and doesn't let you go, and its characters voices will stay with you. ( )
  punkinmuffin | Apr 30, 2024 |
This one of my favorite books. I don't re-read books very often. This is one of the few that would make the list. This book has been reviewed about 3000 times, so I'm not going to add more to the pile. I will just stay I recommend this book to all book lovers no matter what genre you prefer. A+ ( )
  gpangel | Mar 11, 2024 |
Certainly an homage to classic Victorian/ goth like the brontes and Wilkie Collins. Bit flowers in the Atticish for me. ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
2.5 stars ( )
  EllieBhurrut | Jan 24, 2024 |
A long winding tale of two sets of twins, a man searching for his past, and a famous author. ( )
  caanderson | Jan 2, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 868 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Setterfield, Dianeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amato, BiancaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Granato, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammer, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henshall, RuthieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Järnebrand, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moksunen, SalmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Redgrave, LynnReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary 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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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
(passion4reading)

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