The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale

A Novel

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.

& Taylor

Having spent six decades creating a series of alternate lives designed to bring her fame and fortune while hiding the truth about her tragic past, reclusive and enigmatic Vida Winter finds herself torn by young Margaret Lea's simple request for the truth about her own birth. A first novel. Reprint.

Simon and Schuster
Instant #1 New York Times bestseller

“Readers will feel the magnetic pull of this paean to words, books and the magical power of story.”—People

“Eerie and fascinating.”—USA TODAY

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.

Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

Publisher: New York : Washington Square Press, 2007
Edition: 1st Washington Square Press trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780743298032
Branch Call Number: FIC Sette
Characteristics: 406 p. ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: 13th tale

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Sep 04, 2018

DNF, not for me. I should try to remember that I don't like gothic stories.

Aug 30, 2018

I rather enjoyed this story. I feel that the author Vida Winter (in the story) is a very good storyteller, who gives away just enough of the story to tease at your senses and eager to come back for more. She has chosen Margaret to write down her life story.

The story Vida tells, starts off with the odd siblings at Angelfield, and gradually moves onto the story of the twin girls (Adeline & Emmeline). Oh and of course the ghost of Angelfield....if you choose to believe that. Of course with the hint of the 'ghost' popping up here and there, it should be pretty obvious what is happening but nevertheless it is still a good read when the truth is revealed.

Margaret's story when compared to Vida's isn't as engrossing, but then again who can when Vida has such an interesting story.

This was definitely a book that is hard to put down as soon as Vida starts telling her story. You are eager to hear her tale and the mysteries surrounding the twins.

Jul 09, 2018

The novel starts a bit slow but stay with it, becomes and interesting and intriguing novel to the end. Well worth the read.

great strangeness that i couldn't stop reading...

Jun 26, 2017

A very well-written novel I stumbled upon at a book sale. The plot is what intrigued me to purchase it. The story is a unique one, that hold mystery with an air of ghoulish haunting. There are twists that has the reader guessing and then thrown off course with a surprise revelation. **SPOILER ALERT**

The ending is endearing in my opinion, but also corny in a fairy-tale ending fashion that uses a cat as an excuse for a romance to begin to blossom.

Mar 28, 2017

More like The Thirteenth Turd.

Mar 21, 2017

Really enjoyed this book, came across at random, almost like being in a physical library...I have never been a fan of this sort of story but the writing kept me engaged from beginning to end. I guess one could say the book had a therapeutic affect...:-)

PimaLib_ChristineR Mar 11, 2017

Unlike many other readers, this was not a book that was recommended to me but one that I happily came across. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much. There were no expectations to live up to and I can easily understand why others would want to recommend the book to friends.

While others are drawn to the idea of sibling-hood or twins, I was pulled in by the contemplation of writing and storytelling. While there are definitely meta-moments, Setterfeild's own writing was able to pull me into this world and the story of Ms. Winter, both as she tells it and as Margaret delves into the mystery of the story and why she is the chosen biographer of someone who has lied her whole life about her past.

Margaret's own story and the strained relationship with her mother was not as intriguing. The whole issue with the mother felt contrived and was never resolved or really added any meaning to the story as a whole.

That little issue aside (and it was an aside), the writing is delightful and the unraveling of the truth both through words and actions was a pleasure to read.

Feb 02, 2017

Twisty gothic tale of the strange Angelfield family. The premise is a famous storyteller finally telling her own story. It takes place over 3 generations and includes a mystery surrounding a fire, parents in absentia, feral twins, family secrets, and ghosts of the past. The writing style has an old fashioned, fairytale feel to it. It has a slow pace as the story behind the mystery is doled out bit by bit, but I never lost interest. I enjoyed it.

ArapahoeHannah Aug 08, 2016

A truly haunting story that had me entangled in its web of beauty!

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Feb 09, 2018

firebird770 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

May 22, 2016

julia_sedai thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Feb 17, 2013

Nemo28 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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May 22, 2016

Sexual Content: Incest


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Lauren Jul 27, 2008

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth itself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don't expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.


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