THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield: Read This If

I finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield at the very end of last year, and, like so many other novels I’ve read recently, I haven’t gotten around to offering my thoughts. I listened to the audio version, which I definitely recommend, though it is a moody, atmospheric listen, entirely appropriate for these frigid winter months. It is told through both the voice of a young(ish) happenstance biographer, and the elderly, sickly author that she is “interviewing” on the author’s terms. I never did piece together where, exactly, in time this novel took place, but that could be because I missed a key detail in the audio that I would have caught in the text.

You should consider reading this if:

  • You enjoy stories that leave you feeling as if you’re wandering on an English moor through a dense fog. 
  • You don’t mind a bit of gothic moodiness and the occasional appearance of unexplained apparitions. 
  • You like novels full of rich, descriptive language and fully developed characters.
  • You’re looking for the perfect book with which to curl up with under a thick blanket with a cup of hot tea (or coffee or cocoa) on a gloomy, winter day.
  • You are looking for a non-romance, non-chick-lit novel with female primary characters.
  • You loved The Secret Garden as a child.

Don’t bother with this if:

  • You prefer novels that are straight-forward and fast-paced. 
  • The strange bond between twins is far less than fascinating to you. 
  • You prefer your stories illuminated by sun beams as opposed to moonlight. 
  • You find stories with no male primary characters intolerable.
  • Just reading about cold and dampness gives you an unstoppably runny nose.