Juliet's Reviews > The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
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Mar 10, 11


Low-profile biographer Margaret Lea is invited to write the story of famous novelist Vida Winter. Margaret travels to Vida's isolated home in Yorkshire to meet the reclusive writer. From there, the dark story of Vida's past unfolds as the seriously ill novelist does what she has never done in any previous interviews: tells the truth. As Vida's account proceeds in gradual instalments, slowed by her illness, Margaret is drawn towards the mysterious, burned-out Angelfield House, Vida's childhood home, and swept into a gothic tale of secrets and lies, a tale that has a personal resonance for Margaret herself.

If I could give half-stars I'd rate this novel as three and a half. It's absorbing and original, beautifully written for the most part, but sometimes a little wordy. Setterfield maintains the tension well in Vida's colourful story. Margaret's story does not always sit comfortably with Vida's, and I wasn't completely convinced by the novel's ending. Overall, though, it was an entertaining and satisfying read.

Anyone who enjoyed Kate Morton's latest novel, The Distant Hours, will enjoy The Thirteenth Tale.
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