Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

** Please read the comments on this post before deciding if the book is right for you. **
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Review by Ambrosia from Making the Moments Count
Written in a similar style as Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, I am a forever fan of Diane Setterfield. Vida Winters, a well-known writer, has masked herself with a cloak of secrecy. Keeping her identity and past well hidden, her secrets would die with her, if she wished. However, toward the end of her life she decides to divulge her past to Margaret Lea, a biographer.
Margaret Lea enters the troubled history of Vida Winters. As the truth of her life unfolds, Margaret discovers the truth in her own troubled past.
Diane Setterfield is a phenomenal writer. Her characters are vivacious and realistic. Her training as an English professor is evident in her eloquent writing. I began and finished this book within a couple of days. I must admit, I was most disappointed that I did not have more Setterfield books to devour.
The Thirteenth tale revitalized my interest in reading and kindled that passion that had long since died away.
**Edited to add: The disturbing aspects of Thirteenth Tale include incestuous innuendos between a brother and sister, as well as hints toward a psychologically inappropriate twin relationship. To clarify, there is no descriptions, just hints. These work together to make the book rather uncomfortable for those who are sensitive.**


  1. Although I liked the book(somewhat), I wouldnt exactly agree with the description of it being clean. I would call it disturbing.

  2. I'm with the previous commenter, I liked the book somewhat and I would certainly not describe it as being clean. For the most part it was clean but there was definitely disturbing and gross aspects. Wouldn't recommend it for that reason alone. But I can't say that I disliked the book!

  3. Thank you, Laura and Tristen. I don't personally read every book before I post reader reviews, so I rely heavily on people letting us know if the book isn't really a 'clean read'. I have added a note to the top, so others will see your comments. If you could expound on them, that would be helpful, too.

  4. I agree -- this book could fall in the in-between categories. I'd possibly rate it PG-13 ... while it's cleaner than, say, Breaking Dawn, it does hint at improper sexual relationships and violence. Taking those darker paragraphs out of the mix, it's a pretty good book, kind of a modern Gothic-lite.

  5. I think marsh mayhem described it best (though I haven't read breaking dawn). It's not dirty in the sense that you "see" things, but there are lots of hints that may make people (especially prudish people like me) a bit uncomfortable.

  6. Sorry ladies (and Emily)! I definitely did not mean to gloss over the innuendos and darker aspects of the book. I guess I was so hyped up by her use of literary prose, without bad language, that I failed to mention the disturbing aspects of the book. This may be seen as a review FAIL. But, as with all failures, lessons have been learned.