‘What better way to get to know someone than through their choice and treatment of books?’ asks Margaret Lea, the bookish narrator of Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale .
First-time authors usually feel the need to probe for their place in the literary canon; Setterfield has chosen a cosy nook among well-thumbed copies of Jane Eyre, The Woman in White and Wuthering Heights. Her debut is as much about the storytelling itself as it is about secrets and romance.
Margaret leads a spinsterish life in her father’s second-hand bookshop. One day she receives a letter from Vida Winter, the world-famous elderly thriller writer, who has singled her out to write her biography. Margaret travels up to Yorkshire to Winter’s soft-furnished house to hear her life story – a darkly