Host An Unforgettable Book Club

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The_Thirteenth_Tale The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Vida Winter, a prolific writer with a mysterious past.  She commissions a young writer named Margaret to pen her story, the “Thirteenth Tale”.    Mrs. Winter tells the story of Angelfield, an avoided house that was home to spooky twin girls that terrorized the village.  The manor was run by their father, a recluse that never got over the unconventional love he had for his sister.  Mrs. Winter’s tale, along with Diane Setterfield’s intriguing writing, will draw you in as you are told the stories of Angelfield and its inhabitants.


Book Club Party Ideas

For your book club party, Haunted House Music will help set the stage for discussing this story about a house that seems to be haunted and its inhabitants far from normal.

This book is about book lovers.  “Of course all of Shakespeare was worth more than a human life” (page 241).  A dusty library would be a great setting for a book club party for The Thirteenth Tale.   In the unkempt Angelfield house, there was a vase that “contained blackened, brittle stems, and around it a neat circle of papery petals like ashes” (page 104).  Other decorations include cobwebs, a spooky candelabra and creepy wine labels.

Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield, Bakewell Tart, Ginger Cakes

Aurelius is one of the characters in the book also trying to come to terms with his past.  He was a baker and a caterer.  I based my book club menu on some items mentioned in Aurelius’ cherished cookbook:  Scones, Ginger Cake, and Bakewell Tart.  The cookbook “was a notebook covered in brown paper that had gone transparent after decades of being handled with buttery fingers.   Someone had written RECIPIES on the front, in old-fashioned, school-formed capitals” (page 230).

English tart with jam

Aurelius made dainty chicken sandwiches (page 293) for Margaret on her birthday.   I used Lori’s Chicken Salad recipe and thinly sliced bread to make these sandwiches.

Another great decoration could be the “inheritance” that Aurelius had with him as a baby when he mysteriously arrived at the doorstep of the woman who would raise him.  He arrived in a hunting satchel containing a silver spoon with an elongated A in the form of a stylized angel ornamenting the handle, a page from Jane Eyre, a tiny yellowing nightgown and an old feather (page 231-235).

Book Club Resources

Book Reviews

  • “Confident, creepy and absorbing.” —Sunday Times
  • “[This] is a book for people who both love books and know the importance of stories… Diane Setterfield works that magic in her book. . . . Setterfield spins her tale with the skill and confidence of a born storyteller. . . . If the reader craves stories, Setterfield’s tale will satisfy their hunger. A solid debut from a writer readers will want to hear more from.” — Edmonton Journal
  • “The back inside flap of the book jacket promises that Setterfield will, “in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life”. She keeps her promise.” -Stainless Steel Droppings

About the Author

Diane Setterfield is a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature. She lives in Yorkshire, England.

More about Diane Setterfield

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  1. I read this book several years ago and it is still one of my favorites.

    Comment by RobinA2

  2. Hi,

    I am 18 years old and an avid reader, and I loved this book. It had the vibe of a Tim burton movie. The twins I found were sympathetic and adorable, as well as being creepy. There was also a movie version starring Vanessa Redgrave as Vida, and Olivia Colman as the other main character.

    Oh, I have a book to reccomend: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. It is a mixture between Scooby Doo, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is a very fun and interesting book club book. I hope you do take my reccomendation to heart.


    Comment by Flannery Monaghan-Morris