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The Thirteenth Tale

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  300,441 ratings  ·  25,363 reviews
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 inv
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Atria Books
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C.E. O'Grady In an interview a while back Setterfield explained how she purposely set her novel in an ambiguous time. I had the same question and hunted down the a…moreIn an interview a while back Setterfield explained how she purposely set her novel in an ambiguous time. I had the same question and hunted down the answer from the source. Enjoy! It's a great read. (less)
Terri The first time I "read" this book, it was the unabridged audio book. At that time, I had a ridiculous commute: 62 miles EACH WAY! So, I listened to a …moreThe first time I "read" this book, it was the unabridged audio book. At that time, I had a ridiculous commute: 62 miles EACH WAY! So, I listened to a LOT of audio books for those years. I must say that the audio version of The Thirteenth Tale is the best-produced audio book I've ever read. Two different actresses are used: one representing Margaret, which is the primary voice; and one to represent Vida Winter as she is telling her story to Margaret. The actresses selected -- and their portrayals -- are spot on! Even if you've read this book with your eyes, I would recommend listening to the audio book if you have the time. You will thoroughly enjoy every second!(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  300,441 ratings  ·  25,363 reviews

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Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: neo-victorian
Sigh. I really, really wanted to like this book. I heard good things about it, and it has many elements I usually love in a novel: a Victorian sensibility, questions of identity and sisterhood (as well as siblinghood generally), meta-commentary on writing, and a plain, quiet, somewhat chilly protagonist who prefers books to people. The protagonist, Margaret, grew up in a bookstore and learned to read using 19th century novels, and there are clear parallels in the story to Jane Eyre, Wuthering He ...more
Emily May
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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.”

I don't know if I've ever loved words so much.

Lots of people told me that this was a book I needed to read, but many of those people also warned me that I might find it slow. So I went into The Thirt
Lisa Muller
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it

"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"

This quote from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield sums up my experience with the book. It’s been a while since I’ve felt truly drawn in to a novel. Likely this is the result of my recent tendency toward s
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book has been sitting on my TBR for yearsss. its one of those books that sounds interesting and i want to read it, but i have never been in the mood to actually pick it up. until now, when i finally forced myself to read it.

and boy, i had NO idea i was going to get a gothic ghost story. the format is very ‘the seven husbands of evelyn hugo,’ but instead of hollywood, its victorian jane eyre. it was a complete surprise how kind of spooky this story is. i really dont want to say much because
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Reread, although I would liked to have listened to the audio. Maybe next time!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

This book was so good! I can't believe I have had this book in my stacks for a few years now! The story is so bizarre and sad. I loved it!

When Margaret is called upon by Vida Winter, a famous author, to come and write her biography she has no idea what she is in for with this woman.

Vida tells the story of her life as a child, but she is not who she seems. The twist ending
"Tell me the truth."

These are the words that a young journalist speaks to Vida Winter in the beginning of this book. Vida is an author famous for spinning magical tales. In books, and about her life. Each time she releases a new story, she grants multiple interviews, in which every journalist asks her the story of her life, and leaves thinking that they, finally, after decades of deceptions, are the one she's told the truth to.

But she never does. Until now.

Out of the blue, she writes to an
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

So here's my problem with gothic literature: it's so habitually grotesque that it's predictable.

If there's not incest, there's a crazy wife in the attic. If there's not a crazy wife in the attic, there's a murderous illegitimate son who's not right in the head. Or conjoined twins. Or a dying gypsy's curse. Or something equally unsettling.

So even if you guess the HEP Big Secret wrong, whatever it actually is isn't going to make a dent. B/c you've already imagined the worst
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield is a gothic suspense novel, the author's first published book in (2006).

Vida Winter, a famous novelist in England, has evaded journalists' questions about her past, refusing to answer their inquiries and spinning elaborate tales that they later discover to be false.

Her entire life is a secret: and, for over fifty years, reporters and biographers have tried innumerable methods in an attempt to extract the truth fro
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing

The perfect October/ Autumn Read
Not since Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has a book so entranced and haunted me . I rarely read a book twice but when this came up for a sit in book group I was so excited as I longed to pull the curtains and welcome in the Autumn nights with this wonderful multi-layered mystery with its gothic athmosphere that gave me chills down my spine.

Set in the English Country side Angel field House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has been on my tbr for the last three years! Then with time, I lost track of my old list to be read and moved on to reading other books which sparked my interest.
Then recently I came across these books which I thought I would red but had never looked at them again, so I decided to start reading my old interests... This turned out to be the first one!

After a long long time, I came across a story that had me captivated until the last word. It kept me awake at night, every moment I tried
Nov 01, 2021 rated it liked it
I don’t mean to brag, but I just finally knocked The Thirteenth Tale off my Goodreads To Read shelf after it’s been languishing there since the day I set up my account. (High five… to myself.)

As it turns out, it’s a five-star book that I only enjoyed at a three-star level.

Is it gothic goodness with gorgeous prose? Yes, it absolutely is.

Did I find it to be “a love letter to books” as has been so oft claimed? Eh, I guess, but only a certain kind of books. Jane Eyre-kind of books.

Was I bored? Ye
Jul 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
I know that most people like to work out to Gnarls Barkley or Metallica or what-have-you, but I find gym-based exercise so exceedingly boring that I require narrative to keep me going. Since my motor-coordination isn't sufficient enough to allow me to turn the pages of a magazine/book AND pump the pedals on an elliptical trainer, sometime last summer I turned to Audible to solve my problems. Now, what one requires from printed matter may not at all do for the recorded book, and in my case, it tu ...more
Bionic Jean
The Thirteenth Tale is a gothic suspense novel from 2006 with echoes from several Victorian novels. The familiar device of a "story within a story" is employed, and sometimes it even contains another story. This story-telling tradition strongly reminds the reader of earlier classic tales. In fact the "rule of threes" goes throughout this book echoing its fairytale feel. There is the structure of the book itself, "Beginnings, Middles and Endings". There are three generations in the earlier sag ...more
Margaret M - semi hiatus  (With lots of catching up to do)
Five enchanting stars for a beautifully told story about a famous author who is about to reveal the final tale from a collection of successful novels, the thirteenth one. The missing one. Her own story.

Atmospheric, dramatic, and possessing all the magic needed to grip the reader, the Thirteenth Tale is a beautiful story that captures the violent and tragic life of Vida Winter’s. However, in telling her story, the striking similarity to the life of Margaret Lea is also unveiled. The woman she ha
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read, gothic
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+ ...more
Rachel Burton
When I first read this in 2007 I thought it was one of the best books I'd ever read. I met with it again in 2021 with a little trepidation. Would it live up to the hype in my head? The answer is yes. It is still astonishing. ...more
Aug 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
No usual lengthy review for this one. It’s been out for 15 years and the top reviews (both positive and negative) have nailed it. There is nothing more for me to add, except perhaps that if ever there was a character that needed Cher from Moonstruck to come tell her to “snap out of it”, my goodness it was Margaret. Gurl, it's your reflection, not a ghost. Give it a rest... ...more
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
2 stars. I really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. Unfortunately, I finished it with a sense of disappointment.

My interest wavered throughout the novel, going on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Unfortunately, there were more downs than ups.

The book started off with a bang! I was thrilled to have the feeling of settling into a well-written historical fiction/family drama/mystery, my absolute favourite genre combination. Sadly, this feeling was short-lived. After the first
This book is a love letter to books, writers, readers, bookshops, Jane Eyre, Daphné du Maurier, moors and fog. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that I didn’t write it.

I will collect my thoughts and my feels and write a more detailed review when I know where to even begin with this awesome book.

While you wait, go get a copy and read it.
OK, I have calmed down enough to write about this book without flying into a nonsensical, barely articulate rave.

Setterfield’s prose is seductive, evoc
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Amazing for a debut! While a homage to classic gothic novels no need to be a fan - pick it up if you’re into mysteries with plenty of psychological twists, ambiance and above all – suspense! Setterfield excels in the slow build, at stringing you along, feeding you morsels bit by tantalizing bit…almost toys with you until you grow impatient, at least I did. About 1/3 of the way in I reconciled myself to the fact that she insisted on setting her own pace and simply would not be rushed. That’s when ...more
Violet wells
I can’t remember why I bought this and it’s probably not fair that I rate it because at times I felt like I was reading a novel in a language I don’t understand. The best way I can think of describing it is Bronte fan fiction. At times it felt more like a product than a labour of love. The biggest problem for me was the question of how seriously I was supposed to take this novel. Just a bit of light-hearted fun with its constant smoking mirrors and playfully preposterous premises? But maybe ther ...more
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie "DJ"
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here I am, looking at other reviews to figure out what genre this is. So, this is Gothic suspense? WOW! I was guessing mystery, but with so much atmosphere, it seeped into my bones! What an incredible book!

This was a 15 hour audio book, and due to life circumstances, I was not able to listen continuously. What I can say is that every time I listened, I was completely drawn into another world.

It is the story of a famous recluse writer, Vida Winters. She is an invalid now, but has one final tale
Feb 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
Dear god. I listened to this abortion of a story in the car last weekend. It was so awful that words cannot describe how idiotic it was. Contrived doesn't begin to describe it. Melodrama on top of melodrama. Secret family members. Ghosts. The main character fainting at the drop of a hat. Ugh, I wanted every last character to die screaming. If this is what people read (and apparently there are people who actually enjoyed this catastrophe, in fact it has a higher rating than some Cormac McCarthy n ...more
Mary Beth
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I was really surprised how much I loved this book. There are a lot of mixed reviews and it seems to me that people either. Hated it or loved it and I was afraid that I was going to be one of those that hated it. I love the Gothic Suspense genre and this book definitely is a classic so this was not the case. I loved it more than I ever thought I would. I feel that those that hated it just do not like the gothic suspense genre.

The. Best adjective to describe this book would be mysterious. Vi
Margaret Lea never imagined the outcome when she, as a devoted modern, bibiophile, living with her parents on top of their book store, wrote a biographical essay, The Fraternal Muse on the Landier brothers, for a hardback collection of essays on writing and the family in the nineteenth century. She was a diletante, talented amateur in the company of professional and academic writers.

A is for Austen, B is for Brontë, C is for Charles and D is for Dickens. That is how she learned to read and writ
I hate not to finish reading a book I've started, so I went on and finished it fast. Sigh. I really wanted to like The Thirteenth Tale, for one I was reading with my friend Vessey. Besides that, there was a lot in the story for me to enjoy: an antiquarian bookstore; a lonely protagonist whose best friends are books, plus a secondary character who is a mysterious, isolated writer. And some nice passages, like:
"There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you p
Lindsey Rey
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, mystery
[4.5 Stars]
This was an absolute gem!
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
“I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child.”

This seems to me the perfect book for booklovers. The above quote really resonated with me as I can definitely relate to it.

This is an interesting story, situated in the world of literature. Famous, reclusive author, Vida Win
Nov 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh to be lost in a book. That's really the reason I read, the reason I read more often than I write and so on. I have a favorite memory: it is me, at thirteen or fourteen, lying on a bedsheet I carried from the laundry room and spread out in the field across the street from my childhood home. It was spring, nearly too cool to be comfortable, but the grass was dry and very green and filled with tiny little pastel flowers, which are decidedly not "real" snow drops, but that's what I'd called them ...more
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“…a mistress of the craft of storytelling.”
The Guardian

Diane Setterfield is a British author. Her bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006) was published in 38 countries worldwide and has sold more than three million copies. It was number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list for three weeks and is enjoyed as much for being ‘a love letter to reading’ as for its mystery and style. Her

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Famous people! Are they really just like us? In the case of these individuals, the answer is a resounding yes when it comes to loving...
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“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.” 1808 likes
“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.” 1698 likes
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