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The Thirteenth Tale
The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny.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 d...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781435261365
ISBN-10: 1435261364
Publication Date: 6/30/2008
Pages: 406
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.

4.8 stars, based on 2 ratings
Book Type: Library Binding
Other Versions: Paperback, Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

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palmtreekitty avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 27
It has been quite a while since I have read a book that left me craving for more - not that this story is incomplete, I just didn't want it to end. Although the story circles around death and dying, I found the author's words breathing life in every aspect she touched. Her style of writing was very soothing to me and while there was a mystery abounding, I was never scared.

I see the two main characters on a journey: Vita, coming to the end of her life, cleansing herself of the spirit she was and Margaret coming out of a self-imposed "death" stemming from the spirit she carried around and stepping into a new life.

I am making room on my favorite book shelf for this one nestled between Rebecca/ Winter and Kane & Abel and a hop, skip and jump from Gone with the Wind, The Other Boleyn Girl, and The Widow of the South.
RockStarGirl avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 329 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 24
Fabulous book! A mystery from the past is unveiled in little pieces throughout the book, making it extremely difficult to put the book down. It really is better to take your time reading the book, not because it is hard to follow, but because the anticipation is part of the enjoyment. The characters are very unique and the scenes are vividly described. The book really came alive in my mind. It wouldn't surprise me to see this as a movie one day. I am definitely going to remember this author's name and look forward to whatever she writes next.
flyinggems avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 413 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 22
Once I started reading I was very bored. I told myself to atleast give it a hundred pages. First night I read 36 pages, I thought it would take forever to get to 100. The next day I read over 300 pages. I could not put the book down. I finished the last 40 pages the next day. I thought about those last 40 pages and could not wait to start reading, I almost thought about giving up my sleep. It is very slow to start and then it starts to pull you in. I felt I needed to make notes in the book for all the questions that I wanted to ask. There are still some questions that they did not answer for me, but at the end I felt the book did not let me down. Once I finished I could not start a new book, this book is so involved that the characters are still going around in my head and I feel they will be there tonight when I sleep.
DLThompson avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 21
This story had me engaged from page one, like few other books do. It's the kind of book you can curl up with and get lost in. You will not be able to put it down until you have figured everything out, and even then, you will want to read it again, as I did, the minute you finish it. This is truly a captivating tale, and furthermore, it will make you want to go back and read all of the classics that you might have missed, particularly Jane Eyre, which is mentioned several times throughout. As an aside, you might want to read Jane Eyre before you read this one...I believe it will enhance your enjoyment of The Thirteenth Tale. I myself read it (for the first time) immediately after this one, and although it didn't take away from my enjoyment of either book, I truly wish I had read it first. Enjoy this one!
GeniusJen avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for

This is a fascinating and rich Gothic mystery about a young Englishwoman who is hired to write the biography of a famous, dying author. The author has always kept her past a secret from her millions of fans, and the biographer is about to find out why. The young woman moves into the old author's home in the remote English countryside, and spends the ensuing weeks compiling details of the author's bizarre and disturbing early years. As the dying author tells that one final tale, her biographer finds herself working through some of her own demons. Interestingly, the biographer's demons at times bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the ones she is writing about for her employer.

THE THIRTEENTH TALE is a modern-day story, but it is written in an old-fashioned, Gothic style that takes its time to reveal its many secrets. It includes all the elements of a classic Gothic novel: a crumbling haunted house, English moors, dense fog, and a young heroine who finds herself in a potentially dangerous situation. It is gripping, at times frightening, and always interesting. I was kept guessing about how the story would eventually be resolved, and was pleased by how skillfully the author pulled all of the pieces together.

My biggest complaint about THE THIRTEENTH TALE is that the main character felt somewhat one-dimensional. It is possible, however, that the characterization might have been intentional. The main character has been damaged by her own past, so maybe this was demonstrated by making her seem less-than-complete. In any case, that is a minor complaint for the book because many of the other characters are so well drawn.

This is an excellent book for readers who like a good, unusual mystery. There was even a happy ending for those characters who were capable of enjoying happy endings. Be warned, though, that this novel is written for adults. Its dreaded "adult themes" include (vague, not graphic) references to incest, sex, and children born out of wedlock, as well as (explicit) mental illness. But if you're willing to overlook those issues, this is a great story and a fascinating mystery for older readers.
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curledupwithabook avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 169 more book reviews
An absorbing novel about a dying author who shares the mystery of her life with a biographer. The author, Vida Winter, beloved for her books, is also known for never providing the same story twice about her background. In her final months of life, she opts to tell the "real" story of her life to Margaret Lea, bookworm extraordinaire, whose first love is researching and (less frequently) writing about historical figures.

I was immediately drawn to the story due to Setterfield's obvious understanding of those who live for a good book. Her descriptions of the bookshop, owned by Margaret's father, and how Margaret cares for the books - even describing the smells of the old volumes, struck a chord with me and made me feel connected to the author.

The convoluted mystery behind Ms. Winter's true identity is delicious! Full of shadows, creaky floorboards, illicit love affairs, lunacy, murder, and ghosts. Setterfield draws it out, story by story, as Ms. Winter's becomes weaker and weaker. Many nights I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish the next chapter. My only complaint was that everything, is tied up just a bit too tidily for me, but at least all the questions are answered, and I like that. Add this one to your TBR list - you won't be disappointed.
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 3 more book reviews
One of my favorite books. super character development and a wonderful, engaging story. have read it twice and it was our book club favorite too.
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 18 more book reviews
Need a tale to challenge your mystery skills? Then, this is the one for you. You never see the ending coming.
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on
Adding this to my list of favorite books ever!
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 18 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book! She could've shortened the book by a couple hundred pages and still told an entertaining story, but it is a good book. This book truly is a page-turner! Once I got into it, I couldn't wait to see how everything was going to turn out! It was hard to put down.
crafty1 avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 13 more book reviews
A fairy tale for adults,with strange characters and family secrets.Kept me turning the page late into the night:~)
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on
This book was the best book I have read in a very long time. A must for any lover of books. It was fast moving and I had difficulty putting it down. Highly recommend!
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 12 more book reviews
I loved the mystery of this book. I also loved the perspective the book was told from. I really like getting the story from Margaret's point of view feeling that something was missing from her life, and how the story unfolded. It started off a little slow, but quickly drew me in and I couldn't put it down.
reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 19 more book reviews
Captivating tale! A totally unexpected ending!
ktleyed avatar reviewed The Thirteenth Tale on + 72 more book reviews
Very thoughtful and clever mystery - had me convinced I knew what was going on, and then over and over I was surprised how wrong I was - sort of a slow beginning, but the 2nd half was hard to put down. Memorable.

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