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The Thirteenth Tale Audiobook

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: AudioFile magazine called Jill Tanner's performance in The Thirteenth Tale a tour de force...and I couldn't agree more. Both Tanner and Bianca Amato are absolutely marvelous in this haunting debut novel, their voices seamlessly weaving the best story-within-a-story plot that I've ever heard. Reminiscent of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, The Thirteenth Tale is a real thrill for fiction lovers. —Diana Dapito

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

What the Critics Say

  • 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

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (7847 )
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Performance
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  •  
    michael c. hughes 03-18-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    "Wow"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taylor Downers Grove, IL, United States 02-07-11
    Taylor Downers Grove, IL, United States 02-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Becky 02-04-11
    Becky 02-04-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Johnson Hickory, NC United States 02-02-11
    Larry Johnson Hickory, NC United States 02-02-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
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    "If you're into Victorian Novels, this is great."

    There were things about this book that were great, and there were parts that I wanted to skip over. I was captivated by the story of the older woman and found it fascinating. It had enough twists and turns to be interesting and keep me engaged while at the same time it wasn't so unrealistic that I was put off by it.

    By the same token, I found that I had little interest in the drama of the younger woman. Mostly, I thought, "You need to suck it up and get a life, sister." I found that, at least until the very end, I didn't like her much. She was fussy and a general pain in the tush. Yeah, there was trauma in her background and she had a cruddy childhood. Get some therapy and get over it.

    It almost felt as if two different authors had written this book. One was talented and had clear story lines that were gradually revealled to us; the other had the feel of a dime novel and really made me wonder why I was wasting my time. Part of that may be my inability to engage with the younger woman, though, but I did find my mind wandering during some of her longer soliloquies and, unlike a lot of other authors, I did not feel compelled to rewind and listen to them again. To some extent, it reminded me of having a whiney sister-in-law that you just tune out after a while.

    Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a terrible book, and there was far more to enjoy than put me off. I would read something by this author again, but probably not until I'd read a lot of other things. On the other hand, if you really like the involved novels of, say, Thomas Hardy, this is likely to be exactly the right thing for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Stillwater, NJ, United States 01-11-11
    Rebecca Stillwater, NJ, United States 01-11-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    11
    4
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    "An excellent listen"

    The narration in this audiobook was superb. The story was engaging, although a bit long, it took me almost a month of commuting to complete it. Vivid descriptions by the author paint vivid scenes of a grand backdrop and a twisted family tale. Would recommend this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Watson E wakefield, NH, United States 01-08-11
    Watson E wakefield, NH, United States 01-08-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Slowly, smoothly, quietly..."

    After reading all the hype about how wonderful and atmospheric this novel is, I made it my first Audible purchase. Diane Setterfield had good intentions, inspired as she was by Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and other grand novels written in the gothic style. Alas, Ms. Setterfield is no Charlotte Bronte.

    The first chapter was promising, but as it progressed the book surrendered to lazy, amateur writing. I am astonished that Setterfield's editors allowed her juvenile reliance on adverbs and redundant descriptions to pass unchanged. Chapter after chapter, I thought if I heard one more reference to something being Clean, hair being Neat, tea being Hot, someone moving Slowly, Smoothly over something else, I would tear out my own hair.

    The awkward back story to the novel, that of being a twin, was portrayed with such melodrama it was impossible to take it seriously. The primary character, Margaret Lea, was so haunted by absurd images of some lost twin she never knew, every time she saw her reflection she was nearly overcome by the vapors. The book's subject of interest, Vida Winter, is described as the most successful author of her time. If that is to be believed, Ms. Winter should be capable of telling her own story in an elegant, literary style. She does not. She tells her story in the same dull order as the rest of the book.

    Ms. Setterfield wanted to create a dark, gothic atmosphere. Instead, she gave us characters without depth and a setting that we can only conclude was "gray." For all her references to Jane Eyre, she could stand to read it again.

    While the story itself could have been intriguing and enigmatic, the novel reads as if she was so excited about the neat story idea she came up with, she did not consider whether or not she had the skill to tell it. Perhaps with better editing and more rewrites, future Setterfield novels will live up to the hype. This one, not so much.

    The narrators, on the other hand, were fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Ryan 01-07-11
    David Ryan 01-07-11 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "How can I call it slow when it covered so much?"

    Margaret Lee, the protagonist, was bookish and tells her story at an antagonizingly slow pace. Her world was her father???s shop that dealt in rare books until she was compelled by invitation to write a biography for a dying, yet famous author. I have to admit I seldom read stories about women as central characters. I must overcome this limitation, but looking back over the year, John Irving, Richard Ford, and Pat Conroy???s characters were easier for me to comprehend sympathetically. Women live in a parallel world from men. (Thus reveals my narrow perspective.) As an example, Miss Lee??? musings of lost twins never stirred in me the sensation of mystical presence and wordless communication it intended. Nevertheless, as the story reached its climatic end I realized the slow, easy, wandering pace had covered an enormous tale spanning three generations. I fell in love with it. The narrators were excellent. Just as I thought I could predict the outcome, the story would reveal another twist thus, burying the truth a little deeper into the lost past. Repeatedly, the entreaty of the young man in the beginning would point the way with his plea to the dying women to ???tell me the truth.??? The ending was very good and made me want to start the story again from the beginning to better understand Margaret Lee

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crystal Venice, FL, United States 12-21-10
    Crystal Venice, FL, United States 12-21-10
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    1
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    "My first audio purchase"

    I love books and was skeptical that I would like an audio version. The Thirteenth Tale is a wonderful story; and the narration is first rate! I will listen to it again and again. To listen to a story while I work (photo editing) or craft is great. It is easy to pause the story, back up to review, or bookmark a spot to pick up later.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer San Diego, CA, United States 11-24-10
    Jennifer San Diego, CA, United States 11-24-10
    ratings
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    8
    1
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    "Blown away"

    I never write reviews. It's probably not a good thing because I rely on them heavily when making my decisions. This book has compelled me enough to write a review. It has been a month since I first listened to this book; I can't stop talking about it and am already listening to it again. I don't know what it is about it, the great narration or the mystery in the story itself, but this book is definitely worth your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 11-23-10
    Susan 11-23-10

    Koji Cat

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    "Fabulous Story"

    Story telling doesn't get any better than this. The narrators are great and the story is captivating. If you're looking for a story without gratuitous sex and violence, this is it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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