'A truly extraordinary book' - Dinah Jefferies
'I was completely spellbound' - Ruth Hogan
'Just marvellous' - Jo Baker
'A true storyteller' - The Times
It was the longest night of the year when the strangest of things happened . . .
On 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 and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.
Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
And who does the little girl belong to?
An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming 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.
"Diane's masterful storytelling draws you in to a beguiling tale, full of twists and turns like the river at its heart, and just as rich and intriguing." (M L Stedman, bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans)
“Swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful. Give yourself a treat and read it!" (Madeline Miller, Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles and Circe)
Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale) braids miracle and mystery in this marvelous tale set in the upper reaches of the Thames at the end of the 19th century. The story begins on a winter solstice night, when a gravely injured man stumbles into the Swan inn at Radcot and collapses. While the local nurse, Rita Sunday, is being summoned, the innkeeper's son discovers that the large puppet the man was carrying is a little girl who at first appears to have drowned. After tending to the unconscious man, Rita turns her attentions to the child, who, stunningly, returns to life. The tale of the dead-then-alive girl travels throughout the night, and, in the morning, three parties arrive to claim her: Lily White, housekeeper to the parson, identifies the child as her sister Ann, despite the age difference; Robert Armstrong, a prosperous farmer, believes the girl to be the child of his absent son, Robin; and Helena and Anthony Vaughan hope that she might be their daughter, Amelia, kidnapped two years before. Setterfield's characters attempt to puzzle out the child's identity. By combining flavors of some of Britain's very best writers a hint of Austen's domestic stories, a tinge of Tolkien's more folkloric elements, and a dash of mystery from Christie Setterfield has created a tale not to be missed.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A beautiful spell binding book
A wonderfully elegant work drawing to gather mysteries whilst detailing the quirks of the unique but familiar characters. A truly lovely work in the magical realism style. I was truly sad when I finished it