Once Upon a River
By: Diane Setterfield
Once upon a time a girl in the California desert was lucky enough to receive an arc of Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River. Her first read by the author and, if the river wills it, not her last.
It’s a story about stories. A story about lost children and a girl who seemingly rises from the dead but definitely from the river.
At an inn on the banks of the Thames river stories are told as pastime to while away the hours. That’s where an injured man appears with the dead girl one night. The girl who, much later, wakes up. She’s mute and unable to answer questions. The man knows nothing about her.
So the pages of the story turn and spin out to other people who add their own chapters. One family thinks she’s their kidnapped daughter. Another their missing granddaughter and a 3rd woman thinks she’s her little sister.
Each family and each person has a story to write on the blank pages of the girl.
Once Upon a River isn’t just about the mystery but a lyrical story about the power of stories. The ones we tell ourselves to explain the unknowable, unthinkable and unbearable things.
The girl in the desert can see why people might not like it as much as she did. That they may find it slow or hard to get into and perhaps one part could have been cut out entirely. But she found it a beautiful and intriguing tale and one that tied up it’s many threads rather nicely offering some imagery and ideas that will stay with her.
But perhaps she is easily swayed by stories about the power and shared humanity in story-telling.
Much obliged to Netgalley for a copy of the arc. Once Upon a River is available now!
11 thoughts on “The Power of Stories: Once Upon a River”
This is on hold at my library
I hope you enjoy it! I’m looking forward to getting The Thirteenth Tale!
Loved your review of this charming and engaging story!
Wow, the story sounds so novel. I love that there’s three different stories and each one means something completely different. I bet all three stories have a strong emotional pull as well that you kinda just want to hope for each of the storytellers. Sounds like a must read and that cover is really fitting.
I really liked 13th Tale, so defo wanna try this as well 🙂
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
I’ve just been approved by NetGalley for this and now I’m even more excited to read it! Fantastic review! 😊
Hope you enjoy it!
I’m really curious about this one! It sounds like it was so well done 🙂 i love the storytelling element as well- that’s always very much up my street! Wonderful review!
I love the way you wrote this review-and totally agree that one whole part could have been cut out LOL