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.
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Beautifully written and highly intelligent. Blissful escapism for literate (and literary) females who love an old-fashioned story (THE TIMES)
A real treat...Like all the best first novels, this one seems to bulge with a lifetime's hoarded inspirations. Setterfield litters the book with references to nineteenth-century gothic literature and other meta-textual winks and nudges. The effect is of a lit-crit parlour game, which only adds to the fun (TIME OUT)
Guiltily enjoyable (MAIL ON SUNDAY)
Whimsical, moving and consciously nostalgic, Diane Setterfield knows the limits of enchantment, even as she tries to break them (TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)
Setterfield proves a mistress of the craft of storytelling and her musings about the pleasures of reading are beguiling (GUARDIAN)
Cleverly plotted, beautifully written homage to the classic romance mystery novel...It is a remarkable first novel, a book about the joy of books, a riveting multi-layered mystery that twists and turns, and weaves a quite magical spell for most of its length (THE INDEPENDENT)
A witty, entertaining and very satisfying read (THE SPECTATOR)
This bold, unusual debut is, as a Jane Austen character might have said, a vastly entertaining fiction (DAILY MAIL)
Make yourself a mug of cocoa and shut the curtains tight - a generous helping of gothic delight is about to be served (DAILY EXPRESS)
A remarkably compelling debut...This is an extraordinary, unusual and atmospheric story with a sense of timelessness about it. It is rare to be able to smell a book as well as read it, but this one is steeped in the aroma of old houses in remote places with strange faded furnishings and little natural light. It will appeal to anybody with a love of literature and a passion for the feel and smell of old books (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)
Brilliantly written - recommended (EASY LIVING)
Compelling page-turner (WOMAN & HOME)
a page-turner of a Gothic mystery (SHE)
A dark mystery in the vein of Daphne du Maurier about family secrets and the potency of storytelling (THE LIST)
The fiction that I will be most enthusiastically recommending to friends is Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. Much hyped, this has lived up to expectations; it is like Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie and the Brontes all rolled into one, which has to be a good thing (BOOKSELLER)
If you don't mind drowning yourself in a captivating, beautifully written tale, go ahead and buy 'The Thirteenth Tale. You won't regret the purchase (LITPUNDIT.COM)
'I can't remember when I last enjoyed a book as much as I've enjoyed this one. (WWW.THEBOOKBAG.CO.UK)
An extraordinary story, full of twists and turns, spookiness and humour....As a debut novel, this is an impressive book and it is refreshing to read something that combines Gothic invention with realism so easily. For every fantastic plot twist there is a descriptive passage that catches the imagination completely. A wonderful book to settle down with on a Sunday afternoon: one that is both absorbing and fun (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)
The Thirteenth Tale is the sort of novel they don't write any more, which makes it all the more welcome. Add to this Setterfield's remarkable imagination coupled with her literate style and you have the makings of a modern classic (YORKSHIRE EVE POST)
Setterfield establishes, from the very first page, one of those narrative voices which you trust implicitly, warming to its calm understated authority (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
Setterfield writes evocatively and assuredly (LITERARY REVIEW)
This is an excellent emotional mystery which I found harder to put down every night! (WOMAN'S OWN)
Setterfield is a master of pacing (THE SCOTSMAN)
Diane Setterfield has a light lyric touch (FINANCIAL TIMES)
Start reading this on the bus and, I swear, you won't only miss your stop, you might even lose the whole day (COSMOPOLITAN - Great Reads of 2006)
The moorland romances of the Brontes and Daphne du Maurier are never far away from our vision of a perfect Christmas read. Draw up a chair, then, for debut novelist Diane Setterfield. It's a windswept feast of abandoned babies, incestuous siblings and feral twins (THE INDEPENDENT (Review))
A compelling emotional mystery in the timeless vein of Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA, about family secrets and the magic of books and storytelling.
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Descripción Doubleday of Canada, Garden City, New York, U.S.A., 2007. Trade Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. First Edition. French flaps. 408 pp. Nº de ref. de la librería 13055