The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Orion and Simon & Schuster (first published 2006) 3. Photo by Matt Travill [CC-BY-2.0] via flickr 4. person writing [CC0] via pxfuel

Derelict manor; dysfunctional family; dark secrets … and possibly a ghost.

Margaret Lea, who works in a bookshop, is asked by Vida Winter, a well-known author, to come to her Yorkshire home to write her biography. Vida had grown up nearby in Angelfield House, a grand manor, now derelict. It is the story of the March family: reclusive George Angelfield; siblings Isabelle and Charlie; and wild twins Emmeline and Adeline. How Vida Winter fits into this family is revealed as her story is told.

“A letter. For me. That was something of an event.”

“… her eyes were too full of beauty to leave room for anything so mundane as intelligence.”

“Everybody has a story. It’s like families. You might not know who they are, might have lost them, but they exist all the same. You might drift apart or you might turn your back on them, but you can’t say you haven’t got them.”

“Tell me the truth.”

~Quotes from “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield.
  • The Independent: “The Thirteenth Tale is not without fault. The gentle giant Aurelius is a stock character, and the ending is perhaps a little too concerned with tying up all loose ends. But 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.”
  • Kirkus: “Setterfield’s debut is enchanting Goth for the 21st century.”

Other editions.

Adaptation: A 2013 BBC film starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave

Author: Diane Setterfield

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