The Thirteenth Tale

A Novel

Setterfield, Diane

Book - 2006
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Thirteenth Tale
When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.

Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2006
Edition: 1st Atria Books hardcover ed
ISBN: 0743298020
Characteristics: 406 p. ;,24 cm
Alternate Title: 13th tale


From Library Staff

Join the discussion on May 12, 2015. A reclusive author, Vida Winters, hires a young woman to tell her story. She has created so many fictional versions of life that her young biographer finds it difficult to determine what is fantasy or fiction. Determined to find the truth, she encounters a gho... Read More »

Margaret gets the chance of a lifetime when she is asked to write the biography of a famous and reclusive author. Trouble is, the author's life seems to be as much fiction as her books are. A spine-tingling, Gothic read.

The enigmatic Vida Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life.

"@MultCoLib My favorite number is 13 and I love books"
We see family secrets, ghosts & creepy houses in your future.

From the critics

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Feb 04, 2015
  • iSvet rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I couldn't put this book down. Interesting and believable plot and excellent writing style.

Feb 01, 2015
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A compelling story about two women (a famous author and a young book seller) and their family secrets . The primary characters are narrated by different readers which adds more depth to the tale as the listener hears the story in each women's voice.

Jun 14, 2014

Susie B

Jun 07, 2014
  • gina51 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This is one weird story. I listened to it on audiobook, so the reader's irritating stop and start way of talking may have influenced. I won't do a spoiler, but I think this book could have been half as short, and it would have been better. Will not be reading anymore setterfield. Towards the end, I just wanted the story over but still relistened to the (13th!) disc and said What?! Also, the book is too tedious with too much description of everything. One funny line in it was about not to get attached to secondary characters.

Mar 19, 2014
  • mbssmith rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This was an interesting book. Some parts were a bit gross (especially involving Charlie). I really liked Mrs. Maudsley's character, and I wish she had a bigger role, though as Miss Winter says, "it doesn't do to get attached to these secondary characters." Also I made Margaret's prescription from Dr. Clifton:

Jan 01, 2014
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

Dec 05, 2013
  • oboechica88 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A fantastic read, especially for those who love the way words roll off your tongue, surprise twist, plot and character complexity, or for any true book lover. Dianne Setterfield has given us everything that makes a perfect novel: beautiful prose, a complex yet plausible plot, and excellent character depth. If you like this book, you would probably like The Shadow of the Wind and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. For the full review, head to my blog at OboeChica Books (so long and thanks for all the fish).

Oct 23, 2013
  • Knitwit50 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What an amazing book-the mystery wends and winds its way to the suprising conclusion, concealing secrets at every turn. The characters are rich and real and the writing is excellent. A book you will think about long after you put it down.

Oct 11, 2013
  • ehbooklover rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderfully Gothic book whose story involves a ghost, a spooky old house, and lots of family secrets. The more you read, the more the author’s love of reading and all things books becomes apparent. I had previously read this and only read it again for a book club meeting but I'm so glad that I did because it was just as amazing the second time around. Now I can’t wait to read Setterfield’s next novel!

Oct 07, 2013
  • Barbara5060 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Once I started this book I found it hard to put down. Intrigue, mystery, complex characters & plot. A messy family with secrets. Bad behavior, obsession & neglect that must be coped with. Twins and more. It reads smoothly and keeps you wondering 'what's next?' Will it help or not. This is not a light summer read, but the pages turn. When I was finished, I found myself thinking about the book.

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Feb 17, 2013
  • Naima Ali rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Naima Ali thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Jul 27, 2008
  • Lauren rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth itself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don't expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.


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