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Publisher's Summary

From the instant number one New York Times best-selling author of the “eerie and fascinating” (USA Today) The Thirteenth Tale comes a richly imagined, powerful new novel about how we explain the world to ourselves, ourselves to others, and the meaning of our lives in a universe that remains impenetrably mysterious.

A body always tells a story - but this child’s was a blank page.

Rita reached for the lantern on its hook. She trained its light on the child’s face.

"Who are you?" she murmured, but the face said as little as the rest of her. It was impossible to tell whether, in life, these blunt and unfinished features had borne the imprint of prettiness, timid watchfulness, or sly mischief. If there had once been curiosity or placidity or impatience here, life had not had time to etch it into permanence.

Only a very short time ago - two hours or not much more - the body and soul of this little girl had still been securely attached. At this thought, and despite all her training, all her experience, Rita found herself suddenly in the grip of a storm of feeling. All the old rage at God - for not being kind, for not being fair, and finally for just not being - swept her up all over again and she felt tears of anger on her face. She took the child’s hand in hers - the perfect hand with its five perfect fingers and their perfect fingernails - and the words fell out of her that she had not known were there:

"It should not be so! It should not be so!"

And that is when it happened.

©2019 Diane Setterfield (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nancy
  • San Juan Capistrano, CA, United States
  • 12-09-18

Excellent

Hard to find the words to say about this book. It takes you away and you find yourself sitting at the Swan listening to a (the) story. This is one of those special books that you rarely find anymore. Lots of characters but not hard to keep track of as they become people you know.
The narrator could not have been better. Perfection.
Writing like this is so hard to find that I will buy it in hardback to have on my “favorites” bookshelf. Kudos to Diane Setterfield and Juliet Stevenson. Thank you.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed thoroughly... one minor glitch

I enjoyed this even more than Thirteenth Tale. One issue with audio.... my hearing is not perfect and it took awhile to discern the name ”Daunt” from “Vaughn”. Very confusing but once I realized my error all was well. Just a heads up to any other listeners with imperfect hearing.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Once Upon a...

Who can resist "Once Upon a " stories? This one delivers not only a captivating story, but irresistible characters, the good, the bad and the flawed. There is magic here, but it lies more in the mystery, and the lyrical telling of the tale and tales within tales. I was drawn in by phrases in the first few minutes as.."since the light had drained from the sky", or a description of a man for whom "only strong ale and storytelling could reduce the pain in his bones". Juliet Stevenson's narration is beautifully done.
Like other really good books I have read or listened to, this is my favorite...for now.

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perfect pairing

Juliet Stevenson's immaculate performance does so much to heighten Setterfield's intricate and intriguing tales. This is one listen that I wanted to go on forever!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Worth the 12 year wait

This beautiful, meandering tale is crafted by a great writer and a great narrator.
Like the Thames, it flows in and out of your soul.
Kudos to Diane Setterfield and Juliet Stevenson for a great performances.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Story Made for Reading Out Loud

Twelve long years after The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield has written another wonderful tale that is meant to be read out loud. Juliet Stevenson brings the story to life. When a small child's body is brought from the river to a pub, the story begins, and I was under the spell of writer and narrator. The narrative portions that Stevenson reads are pleasant and soothing to hear, but as she interprets the various characters we truly get to enjoy her skill as an consummate actress. This writer and narrator make a winning combination.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lori
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 12-22-18

A gentle story about stories

I got this one because I loved The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield. This one was entertaining enough, but I wouldn't listen to it again. It's really a story about stories, and it's a gentle, rather slow-moving tale that revels in the mundane, so it's comfortable, homey sort of. I came to care about the characters, but soon there were so many and I kept getting them mixed up. It didn't really take much from the story, because by that point I was just listening for the soothing affect it had on me. I liked the narrator, but for a few of the voices.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Refreshingly different

Juliet Stevenson does a fantastic job presenting a story of stories . The author did a remarkable job tying in all of the pieces to each story! And best of all the wonderful animals especially the pigs who are without a doubt as interesting and intelligent as Setterfield presents them to be. Well done on many levels.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration and story

If there was an academy award for best narrator- Juliet Stevenson would win hands down! It was a fascinating story of wonderful characters that lived near the Thames. I don’t want to give away what happens but strongly encourage you to listen to this excellent novel that transports you to another fascinating place. Wonderful!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful narration

I never expected any narrator to equal Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter series. But Juliet Stevenson has done it. Masterful reading of a magical story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful