The Thirteenth Tale

Status: Main Selections
September 2006 -- Diane Setterfield's remarkable first novel begins like a reader’s dream: a bookseller’s daughter returns to the shop one night to discover a letter from England’s best-loved writer, a woman whose life is shrouded in rumor and legend. Reading the strange missive from the famous Vida Winter, Margaret Lea is puzzled by its invitation to discover the truth about the author’s mystifying past. Later that evening, unable to sleep, Margaret returns to the shop from her bedroom upstairs in search of something to read. Passing over her old favorites— Woman in White, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre  —she can’t resist the temptation of the rarest of her correspondent’s books, Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, the recalled first edition of a book that contained only twelve stories. Falling under Vida Winter’s spell for the first time, Margaret reads it straight through. Not long afterward she is standing in the opulent library of Miss Winter’s Yorkshire home, transported by the romance of books into a mysterious tale of her own.

Only five short chapters into Setterfield’s deft, enthralling narrative, her readers too have been transported: they’ve inhaled the dusty scent of Lea’s Antiquarian Bookshop, shared the sense of adventurous comfort Margaret absorbs from her late-night reading, and been seduced by the glamorous enigma of Vida Winter. Yet The Thirteenth Tale  has just begun. Commissioned by Miss Winter to compose her unvarnished biography, Margaret is soon swept up in the tragic history she must unravel—a story stranger and more haunting than any the celebrated author has ever penned, encompassing a grand house, a beautiful yet doomed family, passion, madness, ghosts, and a secret that holds readers spellbound until the very end. Richly atmospheric and deeply satisfying, Setterfield’s debut revives in all their glory the traditions of gothic and romantic suspense exemplified by the works of Wilkie Collins, the Brontës, and Daphne du Maurier. Old-fashioned in the best sense, it’s an urgently readable novel that’s nearly impossible to put down.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:03 PM
by Quack on ‎07-28-2009 03:44 PM

This is by far my favorite book ever written.  The writing style is very tight.  No words are wasted.  Every detail is used at some point.  That style keeps the book moving and just ensnared me in its world.  It reads like great literature without being stuffy.   


It's a very different kind of story.  Not really horror, not really mystery, it is its own beast.  I can't recommend this book enough.  It's a must read. 

by Lil_Irish_Lass on ‎07-28-2009 05:01 PM
The Thirteenth Tale is truly a book for the true book lover. Setterfield pays homage to some of the great writers of old and pulls from the style, mood, and locations of the traditional Gothic Novel. The characters are very real and interesting, you won't be able to put this down. I have since been waiting impatiently for Setterfield's second novel.

This is really a novel any book lover would enjoy and should read... you won't regret it!
by katknit on ‎07-28-2009 07:32 PM
Highly recommended!
by BeatriceBumble on ‎11-08-2009 11:55 PM

I just finished this book about an hour ago, and I'm still trapped inside of it.  It was absolutely fantastic and I would recommend it to any book lover!  Happy reading!

by olafitts on ‎01-08-2010 04:39 PM

One of the best books that I've read.  So good that I bought a copy of the audio book which I highly recommend if you spend much time on the road.  

by Resyn on ‎01-08-2010 05:07 PM

I'd love to get this book with my Nook but it's 16.00 for a digital copy. I want to read it but I keep hoping they will lower the price to 9.99 at least. I guess if they don't I'll have to go to the store and get a hard copy.

by Gertt on ‎02-07-2012 07:59 PM

I wish people would just read and review the books and complain about the price of NookBooks somewhere else.

by Lugaid_Llyr on ‎02-08-2012 08:23 PM

@ Gertt


You realize that thie prvious posts are over 2 years old. Necroposting is as annoying as misplaced posting of reviews.


by HoosierJoe on ‎02-10-2012 03:58 PM

I don't care if people revive a posting that is old and review the book.  Complaining about pricing does get old and has nothing to do with the books quality.

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Message Statuses
Top Kudoed Authors