Disinterring the life she meant to bury for good, Vida mesmerizes Margaret with the power of her storytelling. Hers is a tale of gothic strangeness, featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, and a devastating fire. Struck by a curious parallel between their stories, Margaret demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them.
The Thirteenth Tale is a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter, and in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
©2006 Diane Setterfield. All rights reserved; (P)2006 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
"Bianca Amato is stunning as Margaret....[her] respect for the power of story and the written word is heard in every utterance. Jill Tanner accomplishes a tour de force as the enigmatic and mysterious Vida. In conversation her voice has the hesitancy and fragility of an elderly woman, but her voice takes on the strength and power of a master storyteller as she weaves her spellbinding life story." (AudioFile)
"Readers will be mesmerized by this story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre. The author skillfully keeps the plot moving by unfurling a new twist in each chapter and leaves no strand untucked at the surprising and satisfying conclusion. A wholly original work told in the vein of all the best gothic classics. Lovers of books about book lovers will be enthralled." (Booklist)
I have never been a fan of gothic novels...and after listening to this for about 15 minutes, I wondered why I had gone against my intial instincts, and purchased this book . If I had actually been reading this,(instead of listening) at this point it would have been tossed! What a tragedy that would have been! For I would have missed the chance to be transported into Vida Winter's world. Like Margaret, for me the story took over, and I found my self unable to stop listening. Margaret herself grabbed hold of me, for I, too, understood her love of stories. When I finished it, I knew I had to hear it again, because now that I knew the story, I wanted to listen to the words and visualize the beautiful imagery that Ms. Setterfield created.(and besides I wasn't quite ready to let these characters go...)
Barnes and Noble has created the word, "unputdownable" for this new book club they have created. I heartily concur! This particular delicacy is meant to be savored. Enjoy...
This debut novel is a skillfully written and artfully narrated piece of fiction--what I would rate as true literature--that is well worth a listen or a read. The plot is so well crafted that you are carefully drawn into the story as it slowly yet enjoyably unfolds. I was a little skeptical at first, seeing that the publisher is really pushing this novel, but I would recommend it to those who appreciate an original and satisfying book.
This story is absolutely amazing. It is captivating and enthralling. However, the unabridged Audible copy of this story is missing two chapters near the end of the second file (as the story is so long that it requires two files). As it is, KEY story ending information is left out. Audible has been informed of this problem and I assume it will be corrected at some time.
Ultimately this is not a story to be missed. However, if you are looking for an unabridged copy of the book, this is not currently it.
Setterfield has written a contemporary novel that has all the elements of a juicy Victorian novel - complicated plot lines filled with family secrets, governesses, young women seeking their pasts, characters one really cares about and a forward motion to the plot that keeps one listening late into the night. Both narrators are pitch perfect and Bianco Amato's expressive voice with its underlying sadness creates a wonderfully atmospheric effect that suits the story perfectly. Highly recommended.
Perhaps you went through a British lit phase like I once did, where you read all things Bronte, Dickens, and Austen. The Thirteenth Tale is a marvelous return to the Bronte-type books, with vast estates on the moors complete with twisted passages, secrets , and ghosts. It is the life story of Vida Winter, England's most famous living author, at the end of her life--and it is the first time she's told this version (the truth) to anyone. It is told to Margaret Lea, whose own life is twisted in on itself because of a secret she discovered as a child, and it is large, and complex, and wonderfully gothic. The narrators do a terrific job of creating these two women's voices and characters, and give a beautifully nuanced reading.
I tend to get overwhelmed picking new authors and books, so many times I get a book based on the customer reviews. This was one such purchase. I got way more than my money's worth in this wonderfully complex tale. It does start out slow--but the wait is worth it. I am usually good at picking out the end of a book, but this one keep me on the edge of my seat, listening for hours and hours at a time so I could find out how the mysteries unfolded. In a world where NOT well-written, fluffy serial books are being acclaimed, I am not sure everyone will find this story's dark tale as easy of a read. It is more complex that the normal fluff that I have read lately, and for that I am grateful! This story, rich in detail and emotion, has deep secrets it will not give out easily. It is a journey the reader is taken on, and the journey is not neatly packaged in a Hollywood blockbuster style. The story is layered and revealed thus. Beautifully written, perfectly narrated, and completely original, this book is well worth the time and money.
It has been over a year since I'd read this book, but it remains in my memory as one of the most intriguing mysteries I've read. There is not another book that compares, but the themes are timeless...Cain and Abel...Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, and believe it or not, V.C. Andrew's Flowers in the Attic, which this reviewer read in the seventh grade, shares the theme of the toxic family. Setterfeld's writing leaves me to wonder when will she give me another jewel?
Reading is highly personal, we know that what one loves, another may disdain. And so the reading of The Thirteenth Tale cannot please all. It's rare, however, to find so much divergence in reviews of this amazing story. Personally, I became enthralled after the first half hour of listening. As others have mentioned doing, I found excuses to listen. My sessions at the gym lengthened, I drove the long way home instead of taking the shortcut and I hung on every sentence. The narration is absolutely perfect for the story. Let's hope the author is hard at work on her next.
Say something about yourself!
This book may be the best book I've listened to. Well read, beautifully written, interesting story, realistic characters. The lyrical prose in this book captured my mind as I listened and I found myself not being able to concentrate on the story as the readers kept reading. I needed to think about and process what I had just heard. It was a wonderful book to listen to, but it also needs to be read. I listened, and then ordered the hard back so that I could read it next. Don't let the concept of ghosts deter you. This book celebrates reading, literature, and our own personal stories. Don't pass it up!
Margaret Lea is plucked from obscurity to be the biographer of the most famous author in England~Vida Winter~ months before Winters croaks. Sutterfield doesn't convincingly establish Vida Winter as the greatest living author in my mind. And even though we learn EVERYTHING about her life (she even has memories of her mother's birth) we do not learn where she gets her ability to create award winning fiction and the adoration of millions of readers who breathlessly await her next novel like I suppose people awaited Daphne du Maurier's next novel 80 years ago.
My main issue with this novel is that is is filed under Historical Fiction when it really should be considered to be a romance/mystery. The book combines Jane Eyre , Wuthering Heights & The Woman in White into a single tome, but ultimately fails as TRUE historical fiction. If one is a fan of romance (I am not) then I suppose it is a fascinating tale of incest, crumbling, gothic mansions replete with gardens, rich, dysfunctional family their ghosts and their servants, English moors and rain. I don't have anything against this book, it's just mislabeled. It's an average romance masquerading as an important work of fiction. The Thirteenth Tale reminds of the above mentioned books, but all mushed together, instead of following one, elegant storyline.
If you like this genre of books, then I think you will be quite pleased. It's lurid, voyeuristic and fantastical, and it doesn't lag. It is serviceably performed, not outstanding. But reviewers need to understand their genres. When I think of historical fiction, the setting is firmly fixed behind true events. This book does not establish its self as true historical fiction. It's Romance/Mystery and nothing more.
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