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The Thirteenth Tale [Paperback]

Diane Setterfield
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 7.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

5 Dec 2013

Vida Winter, a bestselling yet reclusive novelist, has created many outlandish life histories for herself, all of them invention. Now old and ailing, at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to biographer Margaret Lea - a woman with secrets of her own - is a summons.

Vida's tale is one of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family: the beautiful and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline. Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling, but as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction and she doesn't trust Vida's account.

As she begins her researches, two parallel stories unfold. Join Margaret as she begins her journey to the truth - hers, as well as Vida's.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (5 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409147762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409147763
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Vastly entertaining (Daily Mail)

This is an excellent emotional mystery which I found harder to put down every night! (Woman's Own)

Setterfield proves a mistress of the craft of storytelling (Guardian)

Beautifully written (The Times)

A real treat ... like all the best first novels, this one seems to bulge with a lifetime's hoarded inspirations (Time Out (Book of the Week))

Compelling page-turner (Woman and Home)

A remarkably compelling debut ... extraordinary, unusual and atmospheric ... The plot is razor sharp (Scotland on Sunday)

Start reading this on the bus and, I swear, you won't only miss your stop, you might even lose the whole day (Cosmopolitan)

Simply brilliant - I haven't enjoyed a first novel so much for absolutely ages (Kate Mosse)

Deliciously chilling, compulsive reading (TELEGRAPH & ARGUS)

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
150 of 163 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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48 of 54 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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4 of 4 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
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. When a novel's compared to some of the greats we expect great things from it and it's usually a disappointing experience. That's what I expected. Pleased to say I was wrong.

This is such a good novel. Yes; it's packed with cliche and takes more than an obvious influence from much of what's gone before but that's the point. It's supposed to. The Thirteenth tale is written to house those themes and bring them to life through a story that's powerfully eerie and very unsettling.

The tale begins with a completely insane, eccentric, family living out their days in a huge house in the country. It's here we're introduced to the twins.

Unwanted, unloved and left to grow wild on the estate as the house and family fall apart. These are not pleasant children and violence, mayhem and insanity will haunt them. They'e victims of themselves and their parentage. Everyone around them fails the girls, in one way or another, and into this volatile mix are hurled themes of suicide, a ghostly figure in white, a missing governess (the book owes much to Wilkie Collins and M. R. James) murder and so much more.

It's quite obvious one of the girls is much more 'normal' than the other but; which is which and do these identical twins swap roles?. What might happen if you separated two children so totally devoted to one another?. That's just a sliver of what happens and there's a huge surprise coming along about the children. I'm intentionally leaving the most important aspects of the story out of my review because any more information would ruin the real twist, the real impact.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Better than TV film
Published 3 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 3 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 10 days ago by Mrs. V. Gifford
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not keen on this
Published 16 days ago by maureen stanley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 16 days ago by Diana Ciobanu
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thirteenth Tale
You may have seen the BBC2 adaptation of The Thirteenth Tale that was shown shortly after Christmas, starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Joanne Sheppard
5.0 out of 5 stars The book was hauntingly brilliant, and Setterfield's writing style...
A heartbreaking account of the unbreakable bonds within families. The book was hauntingly brilliant, and Setterfield's writing style lures you in - you won't be able to put it... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Claire Harbottle
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
Very good story line, enjoyed the book
Published 24 days ago by Diane Deacon Philpott
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Cant remember this.!!!!!
Published 1 month ago by MR ANTHONY K COOPER
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting!
Totally absorbing ! Just what a novel should be. Did not want to finish it. Haunted me for days.
Published 1 month ago by Marianna Milford
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