All children mythologize their birth . . . so begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist. The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself - all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she, at last, wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission. As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.
The Thirteenth Tale was made into a British drama television film in 2013. It stars Vanessa Redgrave and Sophie Turner.
If you found yourself lost in Diane Setterfield's classic, try these titles too - even the book's subjects feel a little lost, and sometimes in a dangerous way.