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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery that will keep you guessing til the end
I really like reading debut novels. Especially if they're great books because there is a promise of more great books to come. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a great debut novel. I read it one weekend when I was home sick and I literally could not put the book down.

It's a story about families, mostly dysfunctional ones. It's a story about...
Published on Aug. 11 2009 by S. Morehouse

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars just okay
Slow start, but then got interesting and sucked me in...but then near the end it dragged out and I found I didn't really care about the "thirteenth tale" by the end! Not bad, but not a classic - I don't agree with the comparisons to Rebecca or Jane Eyre. Oh, that reminds me, there are just way TOO many Jane Eyre references throughout the book. Gets a little old.
Published on July 19 2009 by Annie


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery that will keep you guessing til the end, Aug. 11 2009
By 
S. Morehouse (Langley, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
I really like reading debut novels. Especially if they're great books because there is a promise of more great books to come. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a great debut novel. I read it one weekend when I was home sick and I literally could not put the book down.

It's a story about families, mostly dysfunctional ones. It's a story about stories. It's about people trying to discover their story and how that story fits into their family's story.

The story opens in a bookshop where the main character, Margaret works with her father. She has received an invitation to write the biography of a reclusive well-loved author with a mysterious background; a story that others have always wanted to hear. Margaret accepts the invitation and sets out to find a tale that will also help her tell her own story.

One of the more intriguing themes that run through the book is the theme of twins and their twinness. Another theme is childhood cruelty; this is not always an easy book to read. But the twists and turns of the mystery keep the reader coming back to the book for a thoroughly satisfying ending. I hope Diane Setterfield is well on her way to publishing another book; I for one will buy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves more than 5 stars!, March 5 2007
By 
Kay (B.C. Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Hardcover)
This is one of the best gothic tales I have read! It's characters draw you in right from the beginning. I am a twin also so I really felt connected to them.

I highly recommend this book, also after reading the book check out the amazing website: Thethirteenthtale.com

I hope they make this book into a movie!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, April 24 2008
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
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.

Reviewed by: K. Osborn Sullivan
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, Nov. 27 2009
By 
Tanya (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
This book was amazing. A must read story that is full of suspence, twists and turns and an ending that was a true surprise. The author is a natural story teller and you just don't want to put the book down even though it is full or sadness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kelly's review, Jan. 11 2007
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Hardcover)
THE THIRTEENTH TALE is not your average book----what is nowadays? The book opens with a woman and her trouble with the truth. All her life she has been telling people false stories about who she is.

She is a famous author, Vida Winter, who everytime she gives an interview, she tells a made up story of who she is. So, many people read her novels, but they do not truly know the woman behind the story. She has reached a point in her life, though, where she feels she needs to tell people who she is.

She enlists the main character for that task. The chance for this young lady to finally reveal to the world the truth of who Vida Winter is. The Thirteenth Tale.

The young lady that Miss Winters gets to write her biography, Margaret Lee, has been living above her fathers' bookstore, where she helps him. She has written a few biographies, but more for her interest than any fame.

One of her relatively unknown biographies, though, attracts the attention of Miss Winters and the message behind the words encourages her to contact Miss Lee. Margaret is dealing with her own sense of loss and not knowing who she really is, so while she is skeptical at first, she eventually agrees to write Miss Winters story.

And, what a story it is. It is amazing how who she was before became this author that sits in front of Margaret now. She lead a hard life, and by the looks of all the pages she has written, managed to make something of herself. If anything, she is famous for her unfinished collection of short stories, a collection that has left the world wondering and which is the inspiration for this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying winter read, Dec 29 2009
By 
Andrea (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
When the weather turns dark and cold, The Thirteenth Tale is the perfect novel to curl up on a couch with, in front of a warm fire and a hot cup of tea. It is also a great book about a book lover, for book lovers.

Best-selling author Vida Winter has spent her life spinning stories, but the one story she has never told is her own. Consumed by illness in her old age, she decides it's finally time to tell the truth and she enlists part-time biographer Margaret Lea to record it all. What unfolds is an engaging, suspenseful, sometimes creepy, and surprisingly unpredictable tale. I was filled with questions as I read, and Setterfield does a masterful job of keeping readers guessing until the end. The story is tied up a little TOO neatly but all in all, The Thirteenth Tale is a very satisfying read.

I'll note also that this was a book club read, and all of the other members enjoyed the book as well.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books of the year!, Oct. 17 2006
By 
Kelly (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Hardcover)
I was hooked on this book from the moment it came in the mail. The cover alone is enought to capture someone's attention. Then, you open to the first page and you are at the books mercy until the very last page. I had heard good things about this book, and I am glad I did, because I might have read it in the future, but I would have waited for the paperback, so it would have been sometime before I had the chance to read it. The praise for it, though, meant that I got to read it sooner rather than later.

The book opens with a woman and her trouble with the truth. All her life she has been telling people false stories about who she is. She is a famous author, Vida Winter, who everytime she gives an interview, she tells a made up story of who she is. So, many people read her novels, but they do not truly know the woman behind the story. She has reached a point in her life, though, where she feels she needs to tell people who she is. She enlists the main character for that task. The chance for this young lady to finally reveal to the world the truth of who Vida Winter is. The Thirteenth Tale.

The young lady that Miss Winters gets to write her biography, Margaret Lee, has been living above her fathers' bookstore, where she helps him. She has written a few biographies, but more for her interest than any fame. One of her relatively unknown biographies, though, attracts the attention of Miss Winters and the message behind the words encourages her to contact Miss Lee. Margaret is dealing with her own sense of loss and not knowing who she really is, so while she is skeptical at first, she eventually agrees to write Miss Winters story.

And, what a story it is. It is amazing how who she was before became this author that sits in front of Margaret now. She lead a hard life, and by the looks of all the pages she has written, managed to make something of herself. If anything, she is famous for her unfinished collection of short stories, a collection that has left the world wondering and which is the inspiration for this novel.

The truth, as Margaret Lee finds out, is not always what you expect. This is a mystery story, a mystery about who this woman really is. I wonder if people figure it out, I had an idea about what she was hiding, but I didn't really know for sure until the end of the novel. And even for having an idea, it did not take away from the ending at all. I just found myself sad at the end of the book, because it was over. I would never get to read this book for the first time again, but I will read it again. I want to know what new things you discover everytime, but I also just plain want to visit with Margaret and Vida again.

It is a very gothic novel, very dark, but just amazing. I have been telling people for a few weeks now to read this book. I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good First Novel, July 31 2008
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
I just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. According to the dust jacket this was Ms. Setterfield's first novel. And as first novels go, this one was pretty good. Without giving too much away, the premise of the novel is this.

Ms. Vida Winter, a famous novelist, has never told the truth about her past. Realizing that the end of her days is nearing, she approaches an unknown biographer to write her life story. The biographer, one Margaret Lea, has her on life story too. One which she has never confronted herself. As Ms. Winter starts to tell her tale, Margaret Lea begins to unravel the story of her past as well.

The book part ghost story, part mystery, and on some level, part romance novel. Overall though, the book is well written with characters whom I was able to connect with. The story wasn't so hokey that I was left thinking "yeah, right" and the plot was good enough that I didn't want to abandon the story at any one point.

In short, I enjoyed this book. And I hope you will too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery, well written, Feb. 24 2008
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Paperback)
I picked up this book after reading many of the 5 star reviews online here at Amazon. When I see such a well reviewed book, I always feel like I'm disappointed when I read them and they never live up to the hype. Well this book is the exception. The reviews are bang-on and I loved this book. Great mystery, characters, setting, well written and surprising to the very end. I really enjoyed the writing style and the author has a great way of pacing the story. Looking forward to her next book.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant debut, Oct. 6 2006
By 
Mark Wakely (Lombard, Illinois) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thirteenth Tale (Hardcover)
When a first novel is immediately (and enthusiastically) compared to the works of such literary luminaries as the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, a large dose of skepticism is in order. I read this book with a jaundiced eye, expecting to eventually uncover at least one unconvincing character, a plot twist that failed to surprise, or a passage less than vivid, unworthy of the masters.

I did not.

Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale carries the reader along like a turbulent river, with unexpected eddies and undertows you can't escape. The characters are absolutely true to the worlds of Dickens and Austen, but they're originals, not derivatives. They grieve and you do, they rejoice and you do, they die and you do- almost. The whole atmosphere of the book is powerful and sweeping, in the manner of Henry James or even Joseph Conrad. (Well, minus all those ships, of course.) If I had to pick one story that gave the same overall effect as Setterfield's book, I'd pick The Turn of the Screw, since the ghost element in Setterfield's book is equally shocking and unique, although James's classic novella lacks the grand span and scope of The Thirteenth Tale. Then again, Setterfield's characters could just as easily find a home in Dickens' dangerous London squalor or in the halls of a Bronte mansion, the air thick with secrets and heavy with troubled specters anxious to make themselves known.

Intriguing, daring and even downright heart pounding at times, The Thirteenth Tale might well give you nightmares at the end, but they'll be the best- and most original- nightmares you've ever had.

-Mark Wakely, author of An Audience for Einstein
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The Thirteenth Tale
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Hardcover - Sept. 12 2006)
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