Once upon a river A novel

Diane Setterfield

Book - 2018

When the seemingly dead body of a child reanimates hours after arriving at an ancient inn on the Thames, three families try to claim her.

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1st Floor FICTION/Setterfi Diane Due Jul 10, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
Suspense fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
Detective and mystery fiction
Published
New York : Emily Bestler Books, Atria 2018.
Edition
First Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
464 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780743298070
0743298071
Main Author
Diane Setterfield (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

It's a dark and stormy night at the Swan Inn, located in a sleepy village on the upper banks of the River Thames, circa 1870. The usual patrons are gathered 'round for their typical night of swapping stories when a man bursts in with a lifeless four-year-old girl in his arms. He immediately collapses, setting off a mesmerizing, moody tale of identity, family, secrets, and storytelling. The stranger has identification, but the girl is a complete mystery—and everyone wants to lay claim to her. A farmer from a neighboring town believes she is the daughter of his estranged son, while a wealthy couple are convinced she is their daughter, who was kidnapped two years ago and is now miraculously returned. And some of the Swan's customers, steeped in legends and superstition, think she is the daughter of the ghostly ferryman who haunts the river. The story unfolds at an almost maddeningly slow pace until, at last, all the truths are revealed. Setterfield fills this richly layered plot with a fascinating cast of memorable characters who weave in and out of each other's lives. HIGH-DEMAND BACKLIST: Setterfield's gothic debut, The Thirteenth Tale? (2006), remains a much-loved sure bet title in library circles. Expect holds for her new novel. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Setterfield debuted in 2006 with the New York Times best-selling The Thirteenth Tale and followed in 2013 with the darkly sparkling Bellman & Black, a No. 1 LibraryReads pick and a personal favorite. Here, villagers puzzle over the identity of a child pulled from the icy river: Is she a kidnap victim finally returned home? The daughter of a local couple's estranged son? Or associated with the mysterious Quietly, whose appearance in the village always signals change? Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

One stormy night a stranger stumbles into the Swan Inn, near death from unexplained injuries, but soon becomes less astonishing than the bundle in his arms—a drowned little girl. Local nurse Rita tends to the stranger and confirms to the assembled people that the child is already gone. But when the child wakes up only a few hours later, the inn's patrons start talking about the miracle child who died and then lived. As the story spreads from house to house, claims are made for the child: the parson's housekeeper believes it's her sister; the young and wealthy couple cry that it's their kidnapped daughter; and a scoundrel says she's the daughter his wife took away from him. What is the truth? And where does the mythical ferryman Quietly fit into the story? VERDICT Setterfield's latest novel is set near the Thames river and surrounding villages. The heart of the story are the relationships that twist and turn, as if they also follow the river. Recommended to readers who enjoy popular or historical fiction with gothic twists as well as fans of the author's other novels, especially The Thirteenth Tale. [See Prepub Alert, 7/2/18.]—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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. (Jan.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When the seemingly dead body of a child reanimates hours after arriving at an ancient inn on the Thames, three families try to claim her in the new novel from the best-selling author of The Thirteenth Tale. 250,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

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 body of asmall 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 riverbank 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? Three families are keen to claim her: the wealthy mother of a kidnapped daughter missing for two years; a farming family sure it is their son's secret daughter; a parson's housekeeper, reminded of her younger sister. Each family has 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, this novel will sweep readers away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting them through worlds both real and imagined. -- adapted from jacket

Review by Publisher Summary 3

When the seemingly dead body of a child reanimates hours after arriving at an ancient inn on the Thames, three families try to claim her.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

'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 HarvestFrom 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.