ISBN-13: 9780743298032
Publisher: Washington Square Press (Reprint edition)
Published: October 2007

There was a lot of hype when this book was first released, and here I wish I had read it earlier because this book really live up to its expectations.

This story revolves around two women, Margaret Lea and Vida Winter. Margaret is a young biographer. She has a troubled past, one that involves her dead twin sister and it is only when she stumbles upon her birth and death certificate does she knows about her existence. Though she does not understand the reason her parents is keeping this information from her, she is very keen to learn more about her.

Then one day, she receives a strange letter from renowned author, Vida Winter who requested her to write her biography. Margaret has not read her books, but she is intrigued by this special request and wonder why she is being picked by this author, after all she is only a young biographer. Like other readers, she is particularly keen to find out more about one of her collections originally titled The Thirteenth Tale but only contains twelve enchanting stories. With so many unanswered questions surrounding the author, she decided to take up the offer.

Once Margaret has met Vida, she is immediately mesmerized by her mystique aura. Vida tells Margaret she is willing to tell her story now that she is old and almost dying, but upon a condition that she will tell her story at her own time without Margaret's interruptions or queries. And so, this begins Vida's story where it features a strange pair of twins, Adeline and Emmeline and the Angelfield family, the governess and how finally, a devastating fire that destroys everything. Eager to find out the truth about Vida's identity, Margaret goes out to do her research while being drawn to Vida's tale at the same time. Soon, she will learn something more about Vida's mysterious past, and how the ending enables them to confront their ghosts and to reveal their truth.

The Thirteenth Tale is one captivating story that pulls me in and never let go until the very last page. Besides the intrigue part, there is also a gothic atmosphere surrounding the story. Diane Setterfield has done a great job in building the suspense in this story-within-a-story, and her characters are both engaging and interesting to read. Margaret Lea is an intelligent young woman, and one of the things I like about her is her eagerness to explore. Another thing is, she is a reader and her passion for reading is well described in this paragraph:

I never read without making sure I am in a secure position. I have been like this ever since the age of seven when, sitting on a high wall and reading The Water Babies, I was so seduced by the descriptions of underwater life that I unconsciously relaxed my muscles. Instead of being held buoyant by the water that so vividly surrounded me in my mind, I plummented to the ground and knocked myself out. I can still feel the scar under my fringe now. Reading can be dangerous.

I actually grinned to myself after reading the last sentence. Although I have never encountered any 'life threatening' experiences while reading a book, but there were a few occasions that I missed my stops while reading in the bus/train, or I remained oblivious when someone called my name. Oh yes, reading can be dangerous, depending on how you look at it.

There is also a mention of books like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White in this story that have caught my interest and have added to my wishlist.

I really enjoyed reading The Thirteenth Tale and this will be one of my favourite reads for this year. And I would like to thank Jaimie for agreeing to read this book with me when I asked her the first time. I can't wait to read her thoughts.

Other Bloggers' reviews:
20 Responses
  1. Ladytink_534 Says:

    Isn’t The 13th Tale good?! I didn’t think it could live up to all the hype either. I’ve heard there is supposed to be a movie in the works.

  2. Julia Says:

    This sound like a good book. Maybe I get a copy and read it myself...great review! Always anxious to read your thoughts :)

  3. Alice Says:

    Great review, Melody! I don't think I'd prolong the wait to get the book. Time to whip out my wishlist and go shopping... *GRIN*

    I have Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in my TBR. :)

  4. Eva Says:

    Thanks for linking to my review! I'll reciprocate soon. :)

    And I'm glad you liked it-it was definitely a book for readers. :D

  5. Melody Says:

    Jen - Thanks for the link. I've already added to my post. :) I didn't know there'll be a movie based on this book, and I'll be very keen to watch it when it's released!

    Julia - You should read it! I'm sure you'll enjoy this one.

    Alice - Yeah! More book shopping for you, hehe. Don't forget to share with us what you've bought! ;)

    Eva - No problem. :) I'm hoping to see more of Diane Setterfield's books in future!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I read this one for my book club, otherwise I don't know if I would have picked it up on my own. I liked the mystery and was proud that I guessed what was going on just pages before "things" were explained. Thanks for linking to my review as well.

  7. Melody Says:

    Natasha - This is quite a story, isn't it?! I just love the twist towards the end.

  8. Marg Says:

    It is so great when a book lives up to the hype like this one did.

    My review is here

  9. Debi Says:

    Wonderful review, Melody! You've got me itching to dig this one out of my shelves now! And I love that passage you posted...I giggled right out loud!

  10. Melody Says:

    Marg - Thanks! I've added your link to my review. :)

    Debi - I'm hoping you'll read this soon!! Isn't that passage funny? I had to grin because chuckling out loud in public will be a bit too much, haha.

  11. Jane Says:

    Great review Melody! I loked the book too, it was good and creepy! I finally posted my review this morning. It's been crazy busy around here but hopefully things will slow down soon.
    You take it easy now, dear!

  12. Ana S. Says:

    I can't wait to get my hands on this one. If I keep seeing great reviews like this I won't be able to resist until the next RIP challenge :P

  13. Melody Says:

    Jaimie - It's a pleasure reading with you! I agree the book is a little creepy, but the story is so good!! Hope everything is well and smooth with you. :)

    Nymeth - I'm hoping you'll read this soon! You always write good reviews so I'm really looking forward to reading it once you've read this. :)

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Melody, I read this when it first came out and really enjoyed it. That says a lot about liking a book that receives so much hype. It's a book lovers book.

  15. Melody Says:

    Kristy - I agree with you! I really like Diane Setterfield's writing style and I hope she'll release her next book soon!

  16. Kim L Says:

    I have this one sitting on my shelf. I need to pick it up again! Thanks for the review.

  17. Melody Says:

    You've to read this one soon, Kim! It's soo good.

  18. I love it when someone reads a favorite of mine and feels the same way about it that I did. :-) This is such a wonderful book--a great story and I love the author's writing. She really made the story come alive.

  19. valentina Says:

    you know, whenever I find myself reading standing up, or walking, I always think about this books and what she said about always reading sitting down and in a safe place:P

    glad you liked it too, here's my review!

  20. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I'm definitly looking forward t reading more of her books in future! :)

    Valentina - Me too. ;) Thanks for linking my review.

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