The Thirteenth Tale


“A birth is not really a beginning. Our lives at the start are not really our own but only the continuation of someone else’s story. Take me, for instance. To look at me now, you would think my birth must have been something special, wouldn’t you? Accompanied by strange portents, and attended by witches and fairy godmothers. But no. Not a bit of it. In fact, when I was born I was no more than a subplot.” 

-Vida Winter

  Gothic novel fans, come one, come all! Diane Setterfield has written a novel to charm your “Jane Eyre”-loving hearts. “The Thirteenth Tale” follows a bestselling author, Vida Winter, who, after years of creating stories of her past, finally reveals her own tale. Margaret Lea is the innocent biographer tasked with writing the certainly haunting and peculiar story. Vida Winter comes from a tangled past at Angelfield, a mighty mansion. She has a murky past, including eccentric relatives and inseparable twins. Miss Lea is also dealing with her own troubling past, which includes a departed twin. These two lives intertwine together to create a most intriguing story.

As an enthusiastic reader, I have spent time thinking about my own favorite book. I had never settled on just one until reading “The Thirteenth Tale.” While technically all books are written for readers, this book is WRITTEN for readers. There were so many feelings I have had throughout my life that I have passed over without much thought. Diane Setterfield seems to have unlocked my thoughts and written down exactly what I was feeling. For example, the narrator, Miss Lea, talks about how her love of books has changed. As a child, she could read endlessly. She did not notice the flaws in books, such as poor writing or plot. Then, as Miss Lea aged, her love of books aged too. While she still loved reading, fewer and fewer books could keep her up at night. Perhaps it is harder to captivate the adult reader. Setterfield explains these feelings of growing older beautifully. I cannot begin to explain the wonder of her writing. I would suggest this book to anyone who loves books, words, mysteries, twins and “Jane Eyre.”

While I have tried to capture this exquisite novel, I can not give it the hype it deserves. This is a book you need to pick up and feel. Feel the mystery and elegance. Feel your love for reading. Feel the magic of storytelling. Feel everything.