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The Thirteenth Tale

A Novel
Setterfield, Diane (Book - 2006 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Thirteenth Tale


Item Details

Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons. Vida's tale is one of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account. As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth - hers, as well as Vida's.
Authors: Setterfield, Diane
Title: The thirteenth tale
a novel
Publisher: New York :, Atria Books,, 2006.
Edition: 1st Atria Books hardcover ed.
Characteristics: 406 p. ;,24 cm.
Notes: Also published in 2006 by Orion Books.
Alternate Title: 13th tale
ISBN: 0752875744
0743298020
9780743298025
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Library Staff

Comment by: FPLD_Kids Report This Sep 29, 2011

Only 100 pages in and I cannot wait to finish!

Comment by: madame_librarian Report This Jul 28, 2011

Gothic. That's the first word that comes to mind when describing Setterfield's well-crafted novel of the deep and very dark secrets people keep to protect loved ones deserving or not. Vida Winter, reclusive but much loved author is dying. She hires young Margaret Lea, a worker in a family bookshop and sometime biographer of obscure people, to hear the truth of her life and record it for the ages. What follows is a tale that contains elements deftly borrowed from Jane Eyre, Dickens, Poe, Christie, Hitchcock and other masters of the genre. There are twin girls, left to run wild and unsocialized. There's a large, decrepit manor house staffed by the loyal retainers--a doddering housekeeper and gardener--who care for things, sort of, when other staff refuse to work there. There's a governess, of course, whose motives are murky. The present-day story, too, has its eerie elements though they are not at all designed to produce cheap thrills. Setterfield cares too much for her subject and her characters to resort to a less than literary approach. Her novel is infused with a theme that glories in the love of literature, the invaluable treasure in books for those who have suffered great loss, and the healing power of reading, writing and being able at last to tell one's story. -Madame Librarian


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Report This Mar 19, 2014
  • mbssmith rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This was an interesting book. Some parts were a bit gross (especially involving Charlie). I really liked Mrs. Maudsley's character, and I wish she had a bigger role, though as Miss Winter says, "it doesn't do to get attached to these secondary characters." Also I made Margaret's prescription from Dr. Clifton: http://www.prescriptionmaker.com/generate.php?line1=Sir+Arthur+Conan+Doyle+&line2=The+Case-book+of+Sherlock+Holmes&line3=Take+10+pages+twice+a+day&line4=%27til+end+of+course.+&top1=Margaret+Lea&top2=Angelfield&top3=April+20th

Report This Jan 01, 2014
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

Report This Dec 05, 2013
  • oboechica88 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A fantastic read, especially for those who love the way words roll off your tongue, surprise twist, plot and character complexity, or for any true book lover. Dianne Setterfield has given us everything that makes a perfect novel: beautiful prose, a complex yet plausible plot, and excellent character depth. If you like this book, you would probably like The Shadow of the Wind and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. For the full review, head to my blog at OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish).

Report This Oct 23, 2013
  • Knitwit50 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What an amazing book-the mystery wends and winds its way to the suprising conclusion, concealing secrets at every turn. The characters are rich and real and the writing is excellent. A book you will think about long after you put it down.

Report This Oct 11, 2013
  • ehbooklover rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderfully Gothic book whose story involves a ghost, a spooky old house, and lots of family secrets. The more you read, the more the author’s love of reading and all things books becomes apparent. I had previously read this and only read it again for a book club meeting but I'm so glad that I did because it was just as amazing the second time around. Now I can’t wait to read Setterfield’s next novel!

Report This Oct 07, 2013
  • Barbara5060 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Once I started this book I found it hard to put down. Intrigue, mystery, complex characters & plot. A messy family with secrets. Bad behavior, obsession & neglect that must be coped with. Twins and more. It reads smoothly and keeps you wondering 'what's next?' Will it help or not. This is not a light summer read, but the pages turn. When I was finished, I found myself thinking about the book.

Report This Sep 27, 2013
  • booksmaht rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I stayed up late turning the pages of this literary mystery, and I have since recommended it to readers of all stripes. Make yourself a cup of cocoa and immerse yourself in this world.

Report This Jun 24, 2013
  • iRead26 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I was given this book as a gift a couple years ago and let it sit as the cover didn't intrigue me and I assumed it was a book of short stories. So glad I sat down and started reading! A fantastic story full of mysteries and great characters. I dare anyone to try and guess the ending!

Report This Feb 15, 2013
  • Naima Ali rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book has so many secrets.

Report This Jan 23, 2013
  • ancheta56 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I loved this book. It's a real "story" like all those classic stories in the book. I was taught early to suspend disbelief when opening a book and that makes it easy to read over the technical flaws and just get lost in the story. I did make the mistake of beginning it as my bedtime reading and consequently ended up with a sleepless night reading it start to finish. I definitely recommend it.

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Report This Feb 17, 2013
  • Naima Ali rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Naima Ali thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Report This Jul 27, 2008
  • Lauren rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don't expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.

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