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Publisher's Summary

All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's beloved collection of stories, long famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale. The enigmatic Winter has always kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she summons a biographer to tell the truth about her extraordinary life: Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth remains an ever-present pain.

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 (P)2007 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2007

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall


I didn't want it to end! A wonderfully written and narrated novel. You won't be disappointed!

  • Overall
  • Kathleen
  • South Hadley, MA, United States
  • 05-20-11

The Thirteenth Tale

Nicely written story that draws you in slowly and holds you to the end. I listened every chance I had until it was done. Interesting characters, with several I grew to care about. Some twists and surprises by the end. Both readers were excellent. Glad I chose this one.

  • Overall

worth your money

the story is awesome and takes you through time with the characters. I didn't figure this one out till the very end. narration superior

  • Overall

A fabulous read and listen

I read this book right after it was published and LOVED IT!!!! After several re-reads I found it on Audible and purchased it. I loved the audiobook as much as I enjoyed reading the book. The narration is spot-on and the story literally took me away with it. If you enjoy Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, give this book a listen. You will not be sorry.

  • Overall
  • Mama bear
  • Ogden, UT, United States
  • 04-16-11

A better book than the title.

A friend recommended this book and I was reluctant based on the title and preview. The first little while I wondered if it would keep my attention long enough to finish it, but it kept gettting better. There were a lot of interesting characters and I kept wondering how things would all come together by the end. The two narrators made it interesting. I liked it.

  • Overall
  • H
  • Burnsville, MN, United States
  • 04-04-11

Great Story!

I reallly enjoyed listening to this book. The story is great and so are the narrators.

  • Overall
  • Allison
  • McKinney, TX, United States
  • 03-22-11


I'm an AVID reader (seriously, I get withdraw symptoms if I am *not* reading something, anything)....this is by far, one of the best told tales that I've listened to in a very, very long time. You will not be disappointed....and I enjoyed the narrators so much, I will be looking for more told by them actually. And I'm a hard-to-sell critic (between how something is written and the style of telling as well as the wealth of horrid narrators that are out there ugh!) And I seldom write reviews, as nothing much moves me to do so....But this book! The author has written this in such a way as you are unable to leave the story for long without yearning to listen/read more. Intriguing, captivating, mysterious, devious, addicting, rapturous - Being a literary person, I can't say it holds against some of the ultimate historical greats that carry far reaching messages over time or literary wordplay skill...but as far as modern literature and a wonderfully woven tale go? Absolutely amazing....

  • Overall


This was a little slow to start for me but once I got into Vida's story I just could not stop. It's an old fashioned type tale in a contemporary style.The protagonist is a little stand-offish to begin but I soon started to relate to her. I will listen to this one again.

  • Overall
  • Taylor
  • Downers Grove, IL, United States
  • 02-07-11

You won't be disappointed!

Although this is not my normal audiobook fare, this novel surprised me with its ability to grip the reader and draw them into the story. Several times I found myself wishing my commute was longer so I could keep listening. The characters are well developed, the "mystery" surrounding the characters is very well preserved and I didn't find myself guessing the ending before I got there. I found the narration superb and just overall a very good purchase. I was hesitant to purchase this because I'm not usually a "mystery" reader, but this is the type of mystery I can get into. It's more a mystery of personas and characters....rather than an event, such as a murder, theft, etc.

  • Overall

Odd people, no ghosts

Unfortunately, the only ghosts in this story are the ones conjured in the disturbed characters' minds. It is a tale full of odd people in unusual (wierd) circumstances. This isn't one I'll listen to a second time.