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The Thirteenth Tale [Paperback]

Diane Setterfield
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Nov 2007

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family - fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past - and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret's own, troubled life?

As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (1 Nov 2007)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0752881671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752881676
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A fireside mystery with all the grisly trimmings (Catherine Shoard Evening Standard)

This surprise bestseller is an enjoyably windswept story of incest, unnatural love and northern nastiness (Emma Hagestadt INDEPENDENT)

highly accomplished...intriguing twists galore (Katie Owen Daily Telegraph)

a captivating read (FIRST)

A firesdie mystery with all the grisly trimmings (LONDON LITE)

An involving and engrossing tale full of twists and turns...hard to put down! (My Weekly)

riveting from start to finish (THE LADY)

The Thirteenth Tale has all the ingredients of a gripping thriller with twists, turns and false leads to keep you guessing...a beautifully written and absorbing mystery (WOMAN & HOME)

Book Description

Now a major BBC film, directed by Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton (Atonement and Dangerous Liaisons), starring Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
151 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Tale 6 Aug 2006
By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
This is, quite simply, a rattling good yarn and that is not meant to sound derogatory in any way. One of those unputdownable books that take the reader over from the first page and leave you feeling bereft at the end. The story has everything, twins, a governess, house on a remote moor, a governess, warring siblings, abandoned baby, a fire - from this, it is clear to see that the author loves Jane Eyre (in fact quotes and references to this book abound) and, in the general decay and characteristics of its inmates, we are forcibly reminded of Wuthering Heights. There is a sneaky reference to Henry James The Turn of the Screw that sets your thoughts off at another tangent, and, in case you think this sounds all too gloomy and gothic, there are descriptions of the grounds and the gardener that make you think of The Secret Garden.

So, a terrific read and I defy anybody buying this book not to be plunged into its world and to love it as much as I have done. It is going to be HUGE
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Gripping 9 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is her debut novel? I finished it and was left exhausted and crying. She conjures spells with her words like a sorceress. Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. I turned to my husband and said 'The BBC now need to get this and do an adaptation and show it over Xmas.' And what do you know? They are! Well done BBC. And well done Diane. Compelling.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant debut 14 Oct 2006
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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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Setterfield mixes a hefty dose of 'Jane Eyre', sifts in a fair helping of 'Turn of The Screw', adds some Alain Fournier, a bit of atmosphere from 'Bleak House', deft touches from 'Rebecca' and a whisk of Angela Carter, and manages to serve up this tempting collation which is all itself, and I'm sure will have readers of future bookes by other authors saying 'this has touches of Setterfield'

Not being one who likes to read (or write) reviews which 'tell the story' - if you've read the book, you know the story anyway, and if you haven't - well, read the book itself, not the plot summary which might spoil the surprise of the book in store - I can only say that if the brooding, unreal yet real, almost dream landscape of the authors mentioned above delight you and left you longing for a similar fix, try Setterfield.

This is a beautiful, slow, poignant piece of writing and double journey - both the narrator's and her storyteller's.

Though the twists and turns of the plot were ahead of me every step of the way - and yet so RIGHT when they arrived, I actually found myself prepared to wait, and savour the smallness of each moment, rather than going faster and faster because I couldn't wait to find out 'what happened next'

To manage that juggle is splendid indeed.

My only disappointment is (and it's a big one......this is a FIRST novel, so I can't go rushing off to the pleasure of her previous canon of works. Damn, damn, damn.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Thirteenth Tale 16 Feb 2013
By Marie
Margaret Lea lives a quiet existence selling antique books with her father and writing the occasional biography to bring in a few extra pounds. Her literary tastes tend towards the obscure, dusty tomes that are often left behind on the shelves of their shop, and she has never read anything by the infamous bestselling contemporary novelist Vida Winter. Even though she isn't a fan, she has of course heard lots about the reclusive Miss Winter who is best known for her collection Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation - a source of much speculation in literary circles as it contains only twelve stories. So Margaret is surprised to say the least when Miss Winter contacts her to say that she is ready to tell the world her life story and wants Margaret to be the biographer. It seems that the thirteenth tale might be her own.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book and got well and truly swept away in the story of Vida Winter's unruly childhood growing up with her disordered family in a crumbling manor house. Fair enough, at times it borders on cliché and borrows heavily (SO heavily!) from Gothic classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I started playing a sort of game with myself where every time a ubiquitous Gothic image was mentioned I'd check it off on a list in my head. Decaying manor house? Check. Unhinged but beautiful young woman sent to asylum? Check. Creepy twins? Check. Wandering on the moors in bad weather? Bingo! There's even more that I can't mention for fear of spoilers, but you get the picture. But despite the extent to which Setterfield has tried to emulate her literary heroes, it is done in a gripping and intriguing way and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Having enjoyed the TV adaptation, I wanted to read the book. So much better, more characters, explained the baby in more detail. Read more
Published 5 days ago by G D REMMINGTON
4.0 out of 5 stars Try out new author.
Not mad about this writer, but persevered, and liked it!
Published 5 days ago by Mrs. Shirley O. Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner
A book you will want to turn the TV off for. It is a mystery story with a recurrent ghostly presence. Beautifully written, excellent pace and totally absorbing.
Published 8 days ago by Mrs L Dymott
5.0 out of 5 stars It did not disappoint! The moment I finished it I wanted to ...
I saw this as a TV film and simply had to read the book. It did not disappoint! The moment I finished it I wanted to read it all over again. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Kim Leigh
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thirteenth Tale
I love this book, its haunting and deeply interesting.
I had been waiting for a good book to grab my attention for a while, and considering I had just grabbed this from the... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Better than TV film
Published 28 days ago by Mrs E A Greenfield
5.0 out of 5 stars This book (and the movie) are brilliant. I could not stop reading
This book (and the movie) are brilliant. I could not stop reading. Very absorbing and fascinating from beginning to end. Read more
Published 28 days ago by S.Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thirteenth Tale
Saw the film and had to buy the book. A truly emotional story.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. V. Gifford
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy 'Gothic' you're in for a real treat.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm a keen fan of most things Gothic but was somewhat dubious about this one because of the 'Bronte and M R James' references. Read more
Published 1 month ago by JK
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not keen on this
Published 1 month ago by maureen stanley
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