Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
What’s it about?
This novel begins over a 100 years ago and takes place along the banks of the Thames river in England. The story begins when a badly injured man wanders into a rural Inn with a 4 year-old girl in his arms. He immediately collapses and the owners and patrons of the Inn take charge of the girl. She seems to have drowned in the river and is thought dead. The local nurse arrives and also believes the child to be dead. While sitting with the body she is surprised to find a pulse reemerging in the child. Stories abound and three different families come forward to lay claim to the young girl who was dead and lived again. The mystery of the young girl who died and returned to life is the heart of this story.
What did it make me think about?
This novel is about stories- the ones we hand down as well as the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our world.
Should I read it?
So I really enjoyed Diane Setterfield's previous book "The Thirteenth Tale" and was expecting an easy, quick read. This book was not that! The first half of the book was pretty slow. It sets up all that happens in the second half of the book, but it takes a long time to get there. The book has great characters and the setting is wonderful. The river is almost a character in itself. I am not sure how to review this one. I did enjoy it but it was also easy to put down for the first 200 pages. If you have patience this one will reward you.
"It was a solstice night, the longest night of the year. For weeks the days had been shrinking, first gradually, then precipitously, so that it was now dark by mid-afternoon. As is well-known, when the moon hours lengthen, human beings come adrift from the regularity of their mechanical clocks. They nod at noon, dream in waking hours, open their eyes wide to the pitch-black night. It is a time fo magic. And as the borders between night and day stretch to their thinnest, so too do the borders between worlds. Dreams and stories merge with lived experience, the dead the the living brush against each other in their comings and goings, and the past and the present touch and overlap. Unexpected things happen."
If you like this try-
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His yeats of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
7 1/2 stars
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!