British Book Database

The Thirteenth Tale

This gothic mystery novel is centered around the enigmatic life story of Vida Winter, a famous and reclusive novelist. For years, she’s fabricated outlandish life histories for herself, keeping her past shrouded in mystery. However, as she reaches the end of her life, she decides to reveal her true story to Margaret Lea, a young biographer with a fascination for antiquarian books.

Margaret, grappling with her own family secrets, is drawn to Vida Winter’s tale, which unfolds as a dark and intricate narrative. The story transports readers to Angelfield, a decaying English estate, and introduces a cast of characters marked by their complexity and eccentricity. The March family, residing at Angelfield, comprises of twins Adeline and Emmeline, their disturbed mother Isabelle, and a set of servants that bear witness to the family’s tragic unraveling.

As Margaret delves deeper into Vida Winter’s history, she encounters themes of madness, ghostly apparitions, and forbidden love, all intertwined within the fabric of the March family’s legacy. The line between fiction and reality blurs, as secrets are uncovered and Margaret finds connections between Vida’s story and her own life.

The novel is structured with narratives within narratives, offering readers a multi-layered story that explores the complexities of human nature, the power of stories, and the healing potential of confronting the past. The novel pays homage to classic Gothic literature, incorporating elements such as mysterious family histories, remote settings, and an overarching sense of mystery and intrigue.

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