Once Upon a Riverby Diane Setterfield Published 04 Dec 2018
|Once Upon a River.pdf|
|Publisher||Atria/Emily Bestler Books|
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A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.
Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
Or can it be explained by science?
Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
"Once Upon a River" Reviews
I just loved this book and it’s cast of characters!
There is an Inn along the river called the Swan, where storytellers gather to drink and spin their magic tales on cold winter nights.
One night, in walks a terribly injured man carrying a dead little girl. There are a few possibilities of who she could be.
Some magical occurrence seems to take place regarding the girl, she’s actually alive, when previously thought dead by the local midwife/nurse.
This story took me on a journey filled with magic, love, hardship, and a sense of peace also about when our time here is up.
3.5 stars! Charming, atmospheric & lyrically written!
This was an extremely hard review for me to write because my thoughts are so conflicted with how I actually feel upon finishing this book. I thought the storytelling and the writing was absolutely fantastic but I was never able to fully immerse myself in this tale though. At times I was finding myself a little bit bored with my mind wandering often and at other times I was excited and in awe of what I was reading.
ONCE UPON A RIVER by DIANE SETTERFIELD is a magical and mysterious tale that takes you on a slow-moving and meandering journey that reminded me so much of a gothic fairy tale. Immediately upon starting this book there is this strong sense of folklore which I absolutely loved and found so appealing.
I was never really able to fully stay within the flow of this novel though which was very frustrating for me. I do not by any means fault the author for my inability to stay fully focused on this tale though because I really think that I just don't do well with a slow burn. There was so much that was so appealing and unique about this book that I should have absolutely loved.
This was definitely an enjoyable and entertaining read for me and it is one that I knew that I had to read. I am just a little disappointed that I didn’t LOVE this one more as I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale. I think if I didn’t have so many books on my plate right now and I was able to just relax and savor this story…...I probably would have loved it.
*This was a Traveling Friends Read*
Cover: Eye-catching, intriguing, whimsical, beautiful and a lovely representation to storyline.
Title: An absolutely fabulous title that is extremely appealing and a wonderfully fitting representation to storyline and a homage to storytelling.
Writing/Prose: Beautiful, elegant, lyrical, vividly descriptive, whimsical, well-written and fluid.
Plot: Interesting, enchanting, suspenseful, folklore, intriguing, leisurely-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: Satisfying although I wish that I was able to slow down my thoughts while I was reading this book.
Overall: This lover of magical folklore would absolutely recommend this book!
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Diane Setterfield for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel.
Review can also be found on our blog:
This is the most long winded book I think I've ever read. It's been a long time since a book has given me feelings of dread every time I picked it up.
Although I've never read a book by this author, I was nonetheless excited to dive into this one based on the rave reviews for not only this book but for Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. Not every author and/or book is for everybody and this one was certainly not my glass of chocolate milk.
While the prose is without a doubt prolific, the story crawled at an excruciating pace with pages and pages of descriptive text. Some have commented that the prolonged details are necessary in the telling of the story, I humbly disagree. There are a ton of characters in this story and while they are all fleshed out to the nth degree, I didn't care about or relate to any of them.
There is a lot of magic, as well religious undertones in this story, both of which turned me off immediately as I tend to steer clear of those subjects.
I realize that I am in the tiniest of minority of people that feel this book fell way short of expectations while most every other reviewer fell in love with this book. I do not discourage readers from picking this one up for that reason alone.
2 Stars for the writing ⭐⭐
I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was attracted to something that I read about this book which describes an inn where people came to tell their stories. The thought of that reminded me of Canterbury Tales, read many, many years ago in college - about travelers telling their stories. There are many stories here to be told and I was drawn in from the beginning by the descriptive writing of the River Thames, the characters. I was on the river, at the inn and in the lives of this cast of characters. I always hesitate to use the word atmospheric because it’s used so often, but in this case it’s the best word I can come up with to describe the feel of this novel.
Something happens at the inn known for story telling, the Swann at Radcot when an injured man and a little girl appearing to be dead show up. Shortly after, Rita, the nurse who could easily be a doctor, is examining the little girl and then she’s not really dead anymore. This is not just the story of the girl, who mesmerizes anyone who sees her. While she is an attraction to many people, she also represents hope to others who have lost a little girl, wanting her to be theirs. Is she the Vaughn’s missing daughter Amelia or is she the Armstrong’s granddaughter Alice or is she Lily White’s little sister Ann who has been missing or will she belong to Rita, who it seems has brought her back to life ? Does she belong to anyone? There is mystery and magical realism and the fairy tale like quality of the girl was reminiscent for me of The Snow Child. I needed to be patient with this one because I felt it was slow at times and maybe a little long. Having said that, the writing is lovely and there are a number of characters to connect with. I loved the ending.
This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 Fantastical Stars!
A Tale of Folklore, Legend, Magic and Mystery.
Late one night at a pub called the Swan at Radcot on the River Thames, villagers unwind with a pint, as they often do. A man comes to the door with the body of a cold, lifeless girl in his arms and promptly passes out. He sleeps for days.
Rita Sunday, the town medic, checks them both over. To her astonishment, she soon discovers that the young girl is, in fact, alive.
People come from near and far to see her, including three families, all of whom claim her as their own. The Vaughns, whose daughter Amelia, went missing two years ago; Lily White, age 40, who believes this girl is her sister Ann; and finally Robert Armstrong, who is positive that she is his son Robin’s missing daughter, Alice Armstrong. This girl is mute and is completely unanimated, except when watching the river, watching and waiting, for what, we do not know.
It is said that the river is known for taking care of its own. For bringing back lost things and saving people from harm. That a man named Quietly guards it, only bringing back those to safety who actually deserve it.
Who is this little girl and to whom does she belong? That is the question. You’ll have to take a trip to the Thames, to find out.
Once Upon A River is a dark, atmospheric novel, layered with folklore, magic, mystery and elements of the supernatural, thus I was immediately swept away by this eerie epic saga. The richness of the characters are multi-faceted and they made this story so very magical. They include: Henry Daunt, the photographer who notices things others do not, Bess Armstrong, who has some very unusual traits, Rita Sunday whose strength everyone relies on and Robert Armstrong, whose heart is as true as his word. Here, Diane Setterfield examines mystical elements: she takes the readers away, and lets us escape to another time and place, to people who have special abilities, some of whom can see into the heart of others, some who may see things that we do not. It depends on whether or not you believe...
This is a novel which includes vivid descriptions, all of which enraptured me with their elegance and their fierceness and simply captured my heart. Once Upon a River has multiple storylines, all of which are interwoven together brilliantly as each and every storyline in this novel falls together in a way I never would have imagined.
What more can I say except that this is a novel to read slowly and cherish. It is a great read for lovers of epic novels, readers who like magical realism and those who like rich character driven novels. Once Upon a River is the first book I’ve read by Diane Setterfield and it won’t be my last.
This was a another buddy read with Kaceey!
Thank you to Meriah Murphy at Atria, NetGalley and to Diane Setterfield for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Published on NetGalley, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram on 12.2.18.
Will be published on Amazon on 12.4.18.
4.5 Stars rounded up to 5.
Thank you to the publisher Atria Books for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
This is a very special and unique book that is one part folk tale, one part mystery and brewed with a touch of the supernatural. It takes place in England long ago astride the Thames River, which looms large in this story.
The Swan is a family run pub where the preoccupation is telling a really good story. The best stories take on a life of their own and are repeated and spread among the townspeople. On one fateful night during the winter's solstice something breathtaking and miraculous occurred at The Swan. A very large man roared as he stumbled into the door, face ravaged with bloody injuries and holding what appeared to be a large puppet of a young girl. Except, it wasn't a puppet. It was a girl of about four, wet from the river...and dead. Then something magical happens. Who is she? Why doesn't she speak? And how can it be that three different families honestly believe this child is their own? This was enough information alone for me to be lured into the tentacles of this book!
I've read another fine book from this author, "Bellman & Black", so already knew of Diane Setterfield's exquisite writing prowess, her brilliance in serving up a delicate supernatural flavor. My expectations were set and Ms. Setterfield met them. This is an epic and rich story that will keep you guessing until the end, fraught with emotion, compelling and likeable characters, and an Edgar Allen Poe-like feel. I won't go into too much more detail. as this is a book to be savored on your own.