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The Thirteenth Tale

*Fanfare* At last I have read The Thirteenth Tale! It's been on my tbr mountain for a couple of years, I've had it on lists for at least three challenges, maybe more, but just not got to it. This year, encouraged by deslily, I decided it was high time its tbr status was no more. So I added it to my pool of books for the Halloween challenge I'm doing, for which it is a perfect read.

Margaret Lea is a young woman who is seriously into books. Her thing is Victorian literature, which is lucky as her father owns an antiquarian bookshop and she has helped him with his work since she was a young girl. Her mother has nothing to do with the shop and in fact has problems with depression. Margaret's relationship with her is strained and Margaret has no idea why until one day she discovers a secret about her birth.

Summoned, one day, to Yorkshire by famous author, Vida Winter, Margaret is confused as to why the author apparently wants her to write about her life when so many have tried before and been lied to by Vida. At first reluctant, Margaret decides to go and finds herself on the lonely Yorkshire moors, in a large country house that is hiding many secrets.

Miss Winter agrees to tell Margaret the truth about her life and thus begins a series of stories about the Angelfield family, specifically twins, Adeline and Emmeline, but also their mother, Isabel, and her brother, Charles, their housekeeper, the Missus, and gardener, John-the-dig. There is much to be told and huge secrets that Margaret wants to know more quickly than Miss Winter wishes to tell her. Margaret travels to the ruins of Angelfield House and senses ghosts from the past but also meets some very real people who are connected to the mystery somehow. Will she get to the bottom of it all before Miss Winter's very obvious illness reaches its ultimate conclusion?

To tell the truth this book is very difficult to explain. There are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible to talk about it without giving away spoilers. I can say the atmosphere is quite gothic without giving anything away. There are nods to authors such as The Bronte sisters, especially books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Daphne du Maurier, Wilkie Collins and Henry James and I loved that as it kept me guessing about connections... usually sending me off in the wrong direction but huge fun all the same.

This is such a good book, it really is. It would appeal in particular to anyone who likes a good mystery or a ghost story but I'm certain it would also be enjoyed by anyone who just loves a darn good read. It's certainly made me fancy rereading books such as The Woman in White and Jane Eyre, and Rebecca needs to go onto the reading list for next year too. (I can't remember if I've read that book or not.) What better than a thoroughly good read that inspires you to go on to read other really good books?

I can't seem to discover whether Diane Setterfield is writing another book. There's no mention of it anywhere but I sincerely hope she is after the success of The Thirteenth Tale. This is a seriously good writer and it would be an awful shame if all we got from her was one book. Fingers crossed that's not the case.


I'm reading it this month for an online book club, but like you I've had it on my shelf for ages! I

haven't seen this cover before but it's lovely. UK edition? Much nicer than the North American one that I have. Quite different too. Ah well.

I didn't read your review only because once I've decided to read a book I wait until I've read it before reading what other people thought - that way my own impressions will be my own, if that makes sense. But it's good to hear you liked it!
Yes, that makes a great deal of sense, I do the same. I do hope you like it anyway and look forward to reading your thoughts.

Yes, this is the UK cover and it's quite appropriate. But I personally prefer the first American cover with several old books stacked up, as per my icon.
That's the one I have, and I don't mind it but I do like the stark simplicity of the UK one, and also it's just a touch eery!
Interesting to read your take on it! I remember being a bit disappointed with the book, as the characterisation felt thin. It was very hyped when it first came out, and I didn't think it really lived up that hype.
Sorry this one didn't do it for you. I haven't come across a lot of people who weren't struck but I know you're not alone!
I'm so glad to hear that you liked it! I must read it again soon.

Is that the British cover? It's completely different from the one here.
Yes, it is the UK cover... quite appropriate as you know. I actually prefer the US version from my icon, though I don't know if that's the current US version.
that's the cover I have!
Book envy, Pat! I may even try to replace my copy with the one you have. Well, not the actual book as that would entail banging on your door and barging in to steal your book... but er... you know. ;-P
I read this a few years ago and loved it too! The Thirteenth Tale also inspired me to reread Jane Eyre. Glad to hear you enjoyed this book.
Yes, the same thing has happened to me... I now want to reread Jane Eyre and Rebecca and something by Wilkie Collins. That would all make excellent winter reading.