The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

ThirteenthtaleI read this quite a while ago, and it’s one of the few novels I would consider reading again. The Thirteenth Tale was on the New York Times best seller list and for a debut novel I found it to be quite impressive.

The book is about an unknown biographer Margaret Lea that works in her father’s antiquarian bookshop and from time to time write biographies about well known authors (preferably the ones that’s already deceased). However one day she receives a handwritten letter from a very well known novelist called Vida Winter requesting her to write her biography. This however makes Margaret a bit nervous because aside from some articles, she has never published the biographies she has written. She also have never read any of Miss Winter’s novels before, although Vida is the country’s most well-loved authors…

Upon thinking of whether she should accept the request she decides to read some of Miss Winter’s novels and find herself captivated by her stories. However one of her novels called the thirteenth tale contains only a collection of 12 stories and this has got Margaret thinking, “where is the thirteenth tale?” and she decides to accept Miss Winter’s request to write her biography.

After refusing to tell anyone the truth about her life, Vida Winter who now suffers from a terminal illness shares her life story with Margaret who becomes deeply immersed in Miss Winter’s history. Miss Winter unveils dark family secret and mystery that has been kept a secret for over 50 years, which Margaret records and becomes intrigued by Miss Winter’s troubling and disturbing life story. In the end, both of them during their time together have to confront their past and the ghosts that haunt their life.

I don’t want to give too much away about the book, but this story has kept me reading and reading. It really is an easy read and I’m sure that anyone who picks up the book that enjoys intriguing stories about people, their ghosts and dark family secrets will enjoy reading it. It’s a “curl up in bed” story. This novel was full of mystery and yet, somehow also heartbreaking.

Have you read this one? If so, what did you think of it?

Rating: ★★★★

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