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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
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The Thirteenth Tale (2006)

by Diane Setterfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,754789152 (4)4 / 975
  1. 562
    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. 501
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (ladybug74)
  3. 372
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (brightbel, coffee.is.yum, caflores)
  4. 243
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (391)
  5. 160
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (starfishian)
  6. 131
    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. 154
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (rstaedter)
  8. 101
    The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry (avisannschild)
  9. 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
  10. 114
    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. 93
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (julie_e_meyer)
  13. 50
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (amyblue, kethonna)
  14. 50
    Florence and Giles by John Harding (shelfoflisa)
  15. 63
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (lahni)
  16. 41
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: More creepy siblings and a misguided governess
  17. 30
    Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Isolated old ladies benefit by telling their stories to younger women.
  18. 20
    Phantom by Susan Kay (Bookmarque)
  19. 20
    The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh (ForeignCircus)
  20. 64
    The Woman in White Part One by Wilkie Collins (caflores)

(see all 39 recommendations)

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English (751)  Spanish (7)  Italian (5)  French (4)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (3)  German (3)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  All (1)  All (1)  All (786)
Showing 1-5 of 751 (next | show all)
Not the best written thing I've ever read, but certainly a page turner ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
I completely connected to this narrator and got totally sucked in. It was FANTASTIC. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
Dumb! I can't believe I even read it all, but I guess I was hoping it'd get better. It is about a strange family that ends up with a set of orphaned identical twins that are 'cared for' bu a crazy uncle who won't come out of his room and the two live-in help. The house is falling apart and the two girls are not made to go to school. They of course end up with mental problems but you never really find out. The whole story is what a famous aging author tells our novelist. It is connected because the writer was a siamese, conjoined twin at birth but the sister died at separation. There is the underlying theme that the writer is literally missing part of herself.
  camplakejewel | Sep 26, 2017 |
Loved this story: creepy, intriguing, mysterious, heartwarming and hard to put down. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
Margaret Lea, antique book seller and occasional biographer returns, returns to her apartment to she finds a letter. It is from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists, Vida Winter. She is gravely ill, but finally wants to recount her life story before it is too late (she has given fake biographies/interviews in the past). Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer. As Vida Winter unfolds her story (replete with madness; incest; a pair of twins; a devastating fire; and of course a ghost), she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret grew up in a household of mourning, but she never knew why until the day she opened a box of papers underneath her parent's bed and found the birth and death certificates of a twin sister of whom she never knew. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. I found this book fascinating, a modern version of a gothic /mystery/ghost novel with great twists and turns. The characters were well done particularly Margaret and Vida. 4 ½ out of 5 stars. ( )
  marsap | Aug 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 751 (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
Setterfield, DianeAuthorprimary 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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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.

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