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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780743298025
ISBN10: 0743298020
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

Review:

"Former academic Setterfield pays tribute in her debut to Brontë and du Maurier heroines: a plain girl gets wrapped up in a dark, haunted ruin of a house, which guards family secrets that are not hers and that she must discover at her peril. Margaret Lea, a London bookseller's daughter, has written an obscure biography that suggests deep understanding of siblings. She is contacted by renowned aging author Vida Winter, who finally wishes to tell her own, long-hidden, life story. Margaret travels to Yorkshire, where she interviews the dying writer, walks the remains of her estate at Angelfield and tries to verify the old woman's tale of a governess, a ghost and more than one abandoned baby. With the aid of colorful Aurelius Love, Margaret puzzles out generations of Angelfield: destructive Uncle Charlie; his elusive sister, Isabelle; their unhappy parents; Isabelle's twin daughters, Adeline and Emmeline; and the children's caretakers. Contending with ghosts and with a (mostly) scary bunch of living people, Setterfield's sensible heroine is, like Jane Eyre, full of repressed feeling — and is unprepared for both heartache and romance. And like Jane, she's a real reader and makes a terrific narrator. That's where the comparisons end, but Setterfield, who lives in Yorkshire, offers graceful storytelling that has its own pleasures. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"If you are a Reader with a capital R, as is the narrator of Diane Setterfield's debut novel, the pages of 'The Thirteenth Tale' will remind you of what you know and love: the world of books. What you are less likely to recall, however, is the world outside them, the world we inhabit when we set our books aside. Setterfield's erudite novel amounts to a sort of brainteaser, a literary riddle to occupy... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Setterfield's first novel is equally suited to a rainy afternoon on the couch or a summer day on the beach." Library Journal

Review:

"[A] contemporary gothic tale whose excesses and occasional implausibility...can be forgiven for the thrill of the storytelling." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The Thirteenth Tale is a book that you wake in the middle of the night craving to get back to....Like a childhood favorite, it is timeless, charming, pure pleasure to read." San Diego Union-Tribune

Review:

"Setterfield is neither a Bronte nor a DuMaurier, and her adventure creaks at times....But this debut novel gets a lot of that rich bookishness right, heavy on the gothic detail and romantic suspense." Boston Globe

Review:

"Those who buy and read this complex, compelling and, in the end, deeply moving novel are unlikely to feel they've been shortchanged." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"The Thirteenth Tale explicitly sets out to capitalize on our longing for a good old-fashioned read but fails to deliver on precisely that." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"This is a book-lover's novel, with rich characters, fascinating plot twists and plenty of secluded moments infused with the soothing smell of cracking leather and old paper....[A] smart, thoughtful look at truth and deception." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled." Booklist

Synopsis:

Amateur biographer Margaret Lea receives a letter from reclusive author Vida Winter, summoning her to write Vida's life story. As Margaret pieces together Vida's story on her own, what she discovers is a chilling and transforming experience.

About the Author

Diane Setterfield is a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature. She lives in Yorkshire, England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 16 comments:

Ambrosia4All, March 11, 2010 (view all comments by Ambrosia4All)
While reading "The Thirteenth Tale" I couldn't wait to turn the page and find out what happened next. This tale of twins, a ghost, a rundown estate, a garden, and a mysterious writer was exactly what I was looking for. The tale centers on Margaret, a young bookshop clerk and amateur biographer, and Vida Winter, a prolific and popular, yet reclusive writer. Ms. Winter invites Margaret to hear her life story so that it will live on.

The fascinating life story holds all the clues that are essential to figuring out the mystery, but it still surprised me in the end. I was so immersed in the story, that I hardly cared, I just wanted it to keep going. Highly recommended!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
Cheryl Trine, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by Cheryl Trine)
I love old books, complex stories filled with odd characters, mysteries I can't figure out until the last page, and strong women making meaningful personal journeys. I also like an author who knows how to turn concise words into beautiful images for my heart and mind to savor. Wonderfully, The Thirteenth Tale does not disappoint, capturing me from first to last as I devoured each remarkable page, each enticing plot turn, each narrowing of the path. Vivid but never redundant, The Thirteenth Tale weaves a great story. Perfect for a good snuggle in bed on a lazy Saturday morning.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
muwhobbit, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by muwhobbit)
I picked up this book in an airport to read on a transatlantic flight, and I couldn't put it down! I gave up on any hope of taking a nap and just read it straight through. Setterfield has a beautiful knack for the gothic, and the book is intricately plotted and wonderfully written. I highly recommend it!
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(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 16 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743298025
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Setterfield, Diane
Author:
Diane Setterfield
Publisher:
Atria Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Women Authors
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Female friendship
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Atria Bks Hdcvr
Publication Date:
September 12, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Atria Books - English 9780743298025 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Former academic Setterfield pays tribute in her debut to Brontë and du Maurier heroines: a plain girl gets wrapped up in a dark, haunted ruin of a house, which guards family secrets that are not hers and that she must discover at her peril. Margaret Lea, a London bookseller's daughter, has written an obscure biography that suggests deep understanding of siblings. She is contacted by renowned aging author Vida Winter, who finally wishes to tell her own, long-hidden, life story. Margaret travels to Yorkshire, where she interviews the dying writer, walks the remains of her estate at Angelfield and tries to verify the old woman's tale of a governess, a ghost and more than one abandoned baby. With the aid of colorful Aurelius Love, Margaret puzzles out generations of Angelfield: destructive Uncle Charlie; his elusive sister, Isabelle; their unhappy parents; Isabelle's twin daughters, Adeline and Emmeline; and the children's caretakers. Contending with ghosts and with a (mostly) scary bunch of living people, Setterfield's sensible heroine is, like Jane Eyre, full of repressed feeling — and is unprepared for both heartache and romance. And like Jane, she's a real reader and makes a terrific narrator. That's where the comparisons end, but Setterfield, who lives in Yorkshire, offers graceful storytelling that has its own pleasures. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Setterfield's first novel is equally suited to a rainy afternoon on the couch or a summer day on the beach."
"Review" by , "[A] contemporary gothic tale whose excesses and occasional implausibility...can be forgiven for the thrill of the storytelling."
"Review" by , "The Thirteenth Tale is a book that you wake in the middle of the night craving to get back to....Like a childhood favorite, it is timeless, charming, pure pleasure to read."
"Review" by , "Setterfield is neither a Bronte nor a DuMaurier, and her adventure creaks at times....But this debut novel gets a lot of that rich bookishness right, heavy on the gothic detail and romantic suspense."
"Review" by , "Those who buy and read this complex, compelling and, in the end, deeply moving novel are unlikely to feel they've been shortchanged."
"Review" by , "The Thirteenth Tale explicitly sets out to capitalize on our longing for a good old-fashioned read but fails to deliver on precisely that."
"Review" by , "This is a book-lover's novel, with rich characters, fascinating plot twists and plenty of secluded moments infused with the soothing smell of cracking leather and old paper....[A] smart, thoughtful look at truth and deception."
"Review" by , "A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled."
"Synopsis" by , Amateur biographer Margaret Lea receives a letter from reclusive author Vida Winter, summoning her to write Vida's life story. As Margaret pieces together Vida's story on her own, what she discovers is a chilling and transforming experience.
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