Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River

A Novel

Book - 2018
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"One of the most pleasurable and satisfying new books I've read in a long time. Setterfield is a master storyteller...swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful." --Madeline Miller, internationally bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles

"A beguiling tale, full of twists and turns like the river at its heart, and just as rich and intriguing." --M.L. Stedman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans

"This is magical, bewitching storytelling...High prose expressed with rare clarity, story for the unashamed sake of story, a kind of moral dreaminess...well, the list continues to grow."--Jim Crace, National Book Critics Circle winner and author of Being Dead and Harvest

From the instant #1 New York Times bestselling author of the "eerie and fascinating" ( USA TODAY ) The Thirteenth Tale comes a richly imagined, powerful new novel about the wrenching disappearance of three little girls and the wide-reaching effect it has on their small town.

On a dark midwinter's night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son's secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson's housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone's. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl's identity can be known.

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.
Publisher: New York :, Emily Bestler Books, Atria,, 2018.
Edition: First Emily Bestler BooksAtria Books hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9780743298070
Branch Call Number: FICTION Setterfi Diane 11/2018
Characteristics: 464 pages ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

JCLMeghanF Apr 30, 2019

Setterfield has created a charming, magical tale that twists and turns much like the river Thames upon which this story is set. Centering around the miraculous recovery of a drowned little girl, the story follows the investigation into her identity, bringing to light many devastating secrets alon... Read More »

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May 26, 2019

An interesting tale but did find it a little slow at times. Had to encourage myself to finish the book. The story does wrap it up for all the characters at the end.

JCLMeghanF Apr 30, 2019

Setterfield has created a charming, magical tale that twists and turns much like the river Thames upon which this story is set. Centering around the miraculous recovery of a drowned little girl, the story follows the investigation into her identity, bringing to light many devastating secrets along the way. If you like books with that fairy tale feel, this is one you won't want to miss.

Apr 23, 2019

Brilliant. A tale well spun with great characters, suspense and a wonderful ending, oh and a touch of the supernatural. What more could you ask for?

Apr 17, 2019

Diane Setterfield did it again! What an incredible treat this book is! She is truly a master story teller, in the same category of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Charlotte Bronte. The beginning is simple enough: on a dark December night, a man and a child enter a Victorian inn near the river, the Swan, a place where you go if you want to hear stories. The child is dead, drowned, the man is barely alive. But then things change dramatically: the child comes back to life and, because she is mute, several people start claiming her as their own. But who is she? Why do all these people desperately want her? Well, to know the answer you have to read this incredible book. And don't rush through it: savor every single chapter. You will read about family ties and how they can be betrayed; about an abused woman and about a woman who is instead able to forge her life; about the early development of photography; about incredible villainy and forgiveness against all odds; above all, you will read about the river (that might or might not be the Thames), its dangers, its beauty, and the supernatural creatures who inhabit it and who will carry you on the other side, when your time comes. In brief, this book is a jewel!

ontherideau Apr 08, 2019

Take the hand of this author as she leads you along the river, around bends, over rocks and breaking into tributaries.
"But the words were eggcups and what they were describing was an ocean of absence too vast to be contained in such modest vessels."

Mar 06, 2019

After reading comments and description of book again, I changed my mind on even bothering to attempt reading...gothic isn't my thing

Feb 18, 2019

I am only a little ways into this book and I'm enjoying it immensely. For some reason, I thought I wasn't going to like it. I read her second book, Bellman and Black, and although I finished it, I found it dragged in the last half. But this one is a wonderful story, set in "an ancient inn on the River Thames". It is atmospheric and reads a bit like a fairy tale.

Feb 03, 2019

I know people are saying what an amazing book but I just could not get into it. After 141 pages, and my mind wandering while reading, I had to stop. I like reading all kinds of stories but this one did not hold my attention at all. I didn't care for the characters and it moves so slow. I hate writing bad reviews because I know the authors put so much into their stories. But this one was just not for me.

Jan 25, 2019

I'm about 3/4 thru the audio unabridged version and love this tale. Well rounded characters with many players and an intriguing plot with varies tributaries of story.

DPLSaraQT Jan 23, 2019

This is a book full of storytellers, written for story lovers. The language is beautiful, enchanting, and perhaps a little devious. I love that the river itself - the Thames - is a central character of its own. A lovely modern fairy tale.

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