Friday 9 November 2018

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield @DianeSetterfie1 @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow #OnceUponARiver

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? 

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.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield is published  in hardback by Doubleday on 17 January 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Diane Setterfield's first novel The Thirteenth Tale, published in 2006 is one of my all-time favourite books. I heard her speak at Waterstone's Lincoln many years ago and my signed hardback of the book is one of my prized possessions.  Her second novel. Bellman & Black (published in 2013) didn't quite hit the spot for me though. However, I was still incredibly excited when I heard that finally, a new offering from this amazing author was about to be published.

Once Upon A River is best read in huge chunks, in my opinion. It is a vast, atmospheric story, packed with colourful characters who the reader will adore. However, it is made up of lengthy descriptive chapters, often setting the scene rather than advancing the plot, and really needs the utmost of concentration at times.

The story opens as the author describes the various inns alongside the River Thames. There's a watering hole for every occasion; from brawling to story telling, and her descriptions of these venues is spellbinding. The reader is instantly transported to the bars and snugs of various public houses, amongst the larger than life and fascinating characters.

Delicious sense of place and beautifully colourful characters are this author's finest skill. The plot is intricate and detailed, but it is the people who populate the story who take main stage. Their descriptions and their back stories are exquisitely detailed, evocatively described and historically rich.

Setterfield's plot centres around local myth and folklore. There's the mystery of the unknown and the missing and how separate families deal with the increasing suspense.
The author takes her seemingly unconnected characters and plot lines and seamlessly weaves them together to produce a reveal that is both unexpected and quite extraordinary.

Upon Upon A River is Diane Setterfield back at her very best. A vast historical novel full of mystery and myth. Beautifully written.

Diane Setterfield's bestselling novel The Thirteenth Tale was published in thirty-eight countries, has sold more than three million copies, and was made into a television drama scripted by Christopher Hampton, starring Olivia Coleman and Vanessa Redgrave.

Her second novel was Bellman and Black.

Born in rural Berkshire, she now lives near Oxford, by the Thames

Twitter: @DianeSetterfie1
Author Facebook Page 

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