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Review: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

I absolutely loved this book. It was one of those novels that you can't put down, but you don't want to get to the end if it, it's so wonderful.

Magaret Lea lives with her father, who owns a bookshop. One day, she's called to write the biography of Vida Winter, a bestselling, but reclusive author. Many biographers and journalists have tried to get her to tell them her story, but she always tells them tall tales. One young man even asks her to tell him "the truth." But Vida Winter, nearing the end of her life, is ready to tell that truth.

Her story revolves around a set of twins, and a variety of secrets hidden in the past. It turns out that there's a reason why Miss Winter called upon Margaret specifically to tell her story to, and like all the other secrets in the book, this secret is revealed gradually. Although some things are easy to figure out, the ending was a complete surprise for me. The Thirteenth Tale is wonderfully written, with an eye for description. Its clear that Setterfeld knows her nineteenth century authors well; references to Jane Eyre and The Woman in White abound throughout. It makes me want to re-read those books! The Thirteenth Tale was among the top ten books I read in 2007.

Comments

Laura said…
I LOVED this book as well! It is definitely one my favorite books of 2008! I've heard she is working on her 2nd novel, but that could just be a rumor.
Anonymous said…
I enjoyed this one a lot but wouldn't call it one of my favorites of the year. I guessed the twist about five pages before it happened so I was pleasantly satisfied. It was a great story.
Terri B. said…
I too loved this book. I've been on quite a reading binge and have written hardly any reviews and this is one of those I just didn't write about. Since reading this, I've read The Woman in White (yeah, I need to write a review for this one too) and I'm thinking of going back and re-reading Thirteenth Tale to see how Setterfield might have drawn from it.
I'm glad you liked this one! I really enjoyed it as well--and the ending was a surprise for me as well. I knew something fishy was going on, but when I got to it, I found myself flipping back through the pages for hints I missed. Wonderfully written!
Anonymous said…
I read this book in 2006 right around October - it was a perfect gothic read for the fall!
Kim said…
Loved this one too!!! I own it in hardback so I think I must have read it right when it came out.I had kind of forgotten about it, but it seems to be a book that has really caught on again because I am seeing it on lots of blogs lately.
It is definitely gothic, isn't it?
*smiles*
Kim
(page after page)
Teddy Rose said…
Great review! This has been on my TBR ever since it's release. I must get to it!
Anonymous said…
Your review of this book was really insightful. I suspected there were other literary ties placed throughout the book, but you actually know them!
I've linked to your review in my blog.
Anonymous said…
I just bought another copy last night to give to my mom for Mother's Day. :)

I'll add those links to my post, too.
I love this book too. Members of my reading group are still arguing about who died in the fire. Was it Emmeline or Adeline? What do you think?
Unknown said…
Ok bloggers, i need a little help. I'm writing a paper about the contrasting places of the novel and how they progress the theme. Any ideas, help, etc?

I'm most likely going to use the Angelfield home and Vida Winter's current home, comparing/contrasting the libraries and using secrets and abandonment as main themes. Any help would be much appreciated!

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