Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale
. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.
There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:
"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."
She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller."
"I am a biographer, I work with facts."
The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida's plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story's end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
Setterfield's debut novel translates into a great audio book that loses none of the suspense, surprise and satisfaction that come with a wonderful tale. The voices of two of the best dramatic talents working today turn Setterfield's story into a glorious treat for listeners. Henshall, who reads as Margaret Lea, and Redgrave, who plays recluse writer Vida Winter, create mood and tension with their voices, which settles listeners into the narrative with ease. Margaret, a young bookseller and amateur biographer, is chosen by Miss Winter as the recipient of the secret of her tragic past. She reveals, layer by layer, the mesmerizing tale of the Angelfield family that includes murder, insanity, feral twins, a ghost and a fire. Margaret's own past in some ways parallels Miss Winter's, leading them both through the blaze of memory into the truth. Audio fans will be dazzled; fans of the written word will find new depth to The Thirteenth Tale thanks to the rich work of two veteran readers. Copyright© American Library Association. All rights reserved