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The Thirteenth Tale

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  258,674 ratings  ·  21,835 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
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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…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 3.96  · 
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 ·  258,674 ratings  ·  21,835 reviews


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Kristina A
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 ...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 Thirteenth
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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
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Reread, although I would liked to have listened to the audio. Maybe next time!



Mel

www.melissa413readsalot.blogspot.com

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
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Navessa
"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
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
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
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Sid
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
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
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Dem
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
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Libby
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 ...more
Amalia Gavea
''We live like latecomers at the theatre; we must catch up as best we can, dividing the beginning from the shape of later events.''

The Thirteenth Tale had been ''waiting'' in my TBR list for almost two years, before I finally decided to start reading it. It proved to be a rare bibliophile's experience.

In the Gothic Literature group October Reading and in a recent discussion with a friend in Goodreads, I described Diane Setterfield's novel as foreboding. Each scene, each sentence is a creation
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Rachel Burton
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction, 2007
This has finally come out in paperback. This is that one that got an 800,000 advance and is meant to be the best book since sliced bread. To be honest I don't hold out a lot of hope....

On P. 138
I take it back. I have been sucked in straight away. Can barely put it down! Whiich is apt seeing as amonst other things it is the tale of books and their words sucking you in. It is also the tale of a dying writer and her reluctant biography, lost twins and the ghosts of the past. Like The House at
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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 ...more
Julie
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+
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
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of SUSPENSE!
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Book Club
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
Heather
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.
Lindsay - Traveling Sister
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
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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 ...more
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
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Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
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.
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Russell
Feb 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Vapid idiots who enjoy romance novels but hate sex
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 women read (and apparently there are people who actually enjoyed this catastrophe, in fact it has a higher rating than some Cormac McCarthy ...more
Lizzy
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
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Lindsey Rey
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, mystery
[4.5 Stars]
This was an absolute gem!
Margitte
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
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Jamie
Nov 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: so many people
Recommended to Jamie by: good reads, I think
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
Lisa Dunckley
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story! Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale has elements of old fashioned gothic novel, horror, and mystery, along with literary “Jane Austen” styled romance.

The world famous author Vida Winter, who has always kept her past and personal life an absolute secret, is dying. Therefore she wants to tell her OWN story, a true story, unlike the fiction she writes or the multiple fake mini-biographies she's prone to giving out in interviews. She selects Margaret Lea, whose father
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Jaya
DISCLAIMER : This is not a review. These are just some random thoughts that were skittering through my mind while I was reading this book.

WARNING: The following is filled with passages picked up from the book, which may not be of any interest to anyone but me. (Yes I might have ended up highlighting more than half of the book). So read at your own peril!

According to me, there are two kind of listeners of music. One who prefers lyrics of a song over its melody and rhythm; the second kind are
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Michael
I got a lot of satisfaction from the dark mysteries in this old-fashioned tale, which makes homage to “Jane Eyre” and “The Woman in White.” It hooked me right from the beginning, where Margaret Lea is working in her father’s antiquarian bookstore in London and gets a letter from a famous reclusive writer, Vida Winter, inviting her to consider writing her biography. She balks because she has only written obscure biographies of obscure dead literary figures, but the letter intrigues her with its ...more
Rowena
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
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Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Yes, this is a book for book-lovers! If I see that phrase in one more review of this one I think I'm going to scream! So just to be fun, I decided to LISTEN to this book on audio (because I'm a rebel like that... and I had severe morning sickness which rendered me unable to read 3 lines in a book without puking for over three months). It wasn't the 5 screaming stars that I was almost expecting from reading some of my friends reviews, but I did like it a lot.

Our story begins when Margaret Lea, a
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3,961 followers
“…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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“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.” 1755 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.” 1658 likes
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