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Thursday, December 14, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield @SimonAudio #DianeSetterfield

NARRATORS: Biana Amato and Jill Tanner
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: September 12, 2006
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 15 hrs and 38 mins
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.


Margaret Lea and her father run a bookshop. One day, a letter addressed to Margaret is left in the bookshop. It is from England’s best loved writer, Vida Winter, inviting Margaret to come to her home to meet with her and to pen her biography. The elderly writer is dying and wants to clear her conscience of her family secrets, but this is not what she says to Margaret. She tells her that she will tell her a story involving twin girls. Initially, Margaret intended to turn down the offer because she doesn’t know if she can believe what Vida tells her to be true because she’s told the public so much conflicting personal information about herself that she is a bit of an enigma. Margaret has a change of heart and tells Vida that she will agree to write the biography if she will tell her three truths that that can be verified by public records. When these all check out, Margaret agrees to write the biography but she must agree to Vida’s terms that she cannot ask any questions but to let the story unfold as she tells it.

I enjoyed the story, and I was completely blindsided by the secrets that were unraveled. Even so, I felt the book lagged a bit in spots, so I was thankful to be listening to it as opposed to reading it myself. The narrators were both wonderful: Bianca Amato as Margaret and Jill Tanner as Vida. Both narrators are new to me, and I loved the narration. Tanner’s voice sets the tone nicely for the mysterious past that is recounted. Here is a sample of the narration:


3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it!

This book qualifies as:


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