Scan 46What’s it all about?

Vida Winter, famous author, is dying and summons the relatively unknown Margaret Lea to write her biography. It’s clear that there is a story she wants to get off her chest before she passes away. Could this be the basis of the mysterious unwritten thirteenth tale?

Why did I want to read it?

A dramatisation of the novel starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave will be on the BBC over the Christmas holidays (probably already broadcast by the time this is published now I come to think of it) and I wanted to read the book before I watched it. Plus I’ve had the book since it came out and am embarrassed that I haven’t read it before now, making me the last person in the universe to do so. Though that may be a slight exaggeration.

What did I think of it?

The Thirteenth Tale really lived up to what others have said about it and I really enjoyed reading it. It has everything you would expect from a good Gothic; dying person haunted by a secret, main character with issues of her own, potentially inappropriate family relationships, abandoned babies, twins, devoted servants, death and destruction, and will we get to the truth before the end? Hint – of course we will.


Very satisfying indeed. Looking forward to see how they can possibly turn what is a complicated structure with flashbacks and revelations and heaps of atmosphere into a coherent film. I shall report back! but if it turns out that you are the only other person besides me who hadn’t read this then do please have a go; very well written, believable characters, suitable ending (IMHO anyway).