The Thirteenth Tale

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This happens to be one of my favorite books. I have read more than once which says something considering I don’t usually do that. I found out about this book through an email from Borders (I think). I was a freshman in college and I remember reading the first chapter online in my dorm room and loving it. I absolutely had to get this book. I didn’t read it right away though. I’m pretty sure I read it two years later, but I loved it! Even reading it a second time a few years later gave me the same feelings. I was absorbed in this little world and the story of this mysterious author. You just have to experience it for yourself.

Here is the summary from the back:

“When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny.

All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of the reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

“The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

“As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It 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, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

“Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that 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.”

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