Leslie's Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

thirteenthtaleTrade Paperback: 406 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743298039
ISBN-13: 978-0743298032
Source of my copy: I bought it
Cover Image from Amazon
Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father's antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise–she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.
Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.
As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. As well as the ghosts that haunt them still.

Leslie's Review:
Margaret Lea, a biographer troubled by her past, is called upon by the famous storyteller, Vida Winter. Miss Winter finally decided to comes clean by telling Margaret her true story of "the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire." As the truth was revealed, Margaret and Miss Winter finally confront what has been haunting them. The story takes place in Yorkshire, England and the plot is very fascinating and mysterious. The twists and eerie disasters of Miss Winter's past was a great read in this book that I completely loved.

I think the main effect that grabbed me was how Margaret was a total lover of books. In the beginning as she introduced herself, she kept me wanting to continue to read, reminding myself of my own love to books. Like Margaret, I was sucked into Miss Winter's past and I liked the mystery of it the most. It led to questions that, when answered, led to more questions, which made keep reading and reading.

For me, Miss Winter was a confusing character. She was a liar, she's not very nice and very demanding. Yet, in the end, I find myself sort of liking her. She had a troubled past, she loves books as well and very intelligent and I guess she's one of those people you grow to love. She was a very interesting character.

I love Setterfield's writing in this book. She did really well describing feelings, settings and situations by a variety of colorful words. She has great vocabulary. In conclusion, I give this book
4.95 stars out of 5 and is recommended to all book addicts that love a good mystery!


  1. Sounds like a great read!

    You have an award on my blog: http://swordsforfighting.blogspot.com/

  2. I also enjoyed this book. I wrote all the names of the books they mentioned too, so I could go read them.

  3. I've had this book in my TBR pile for a while but I haven't gotten to it yet.
    Great review!

  4. I have this one in my TBR and can't wait to read this! Good review!


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