Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The main character, Margaret Lea, amateur biographer and daughter of the owner of an antiquarian book shop, receives a request from a famous author, Vida Winter. The author is ill and wants Margaret to write her biography, which is confusing considering Winter's habit of fabricating her life story during interviews with journalists. Naturally, Margaret wonders why she would tell the truth this time. What is the purpose? Why is she chosen? 

Winter tells a fascinating but gruesome, sometimes even repulsive, story about her family in the mansion Angelfield. Winter wants to tell the story in her own way, leaving clues for Margaret to uncover while waiting for the story to unfold. What happened? How is everything connected? And who is Vida Winter?

Diane Setterfield writes in a mesmerizing way. The prose is wonderfully rich and colorful, throwing the reader into a world of melancholy and darkness. There are some parts that feel a little unnecessary, but nevertheless Setterfield is vague at the right moments, creating an atmosphere of suspense, where some questions are never answered and up to the reader to interpret.

This is a book for bibliophiles. The author's love for literature is shining through, and there are many similarities to Victorian literature. There are plenty of gothic elements and references to novels such as ”Jane Eyre” and ”Wuthering heights”. The book is a sort of tribute to gothic fiction. All the factors are present – old mansions and ruins, mysteries and hidden secrets, the supernational elements, the barren landscape, the thick mist and the melancholy. But most of all, these surrounding factors serve as a way of showing what's inside the characters. Their search for identity. Furthermore, there are considerably darker subjects emerging eventually and the ending is very sad.

"The Thirteenth Tale" is a rare piece of work that honors literature from a wonderful era, with an elaborated story, written in a mesmerizing way with well developed characters that haunt the reader a long time after reading it.

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