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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Something is going to happen
Something happens on a dark and stormy solstice night in an inn called The Swan, a miracle that borders into supernatural or fantasy. Diane Setterfield is gifted tremendously in bringing a small village to life so much that once I stopped reading, it did take a couple of minutes for me to focus on the real and now. Every word she writes creates magic in our mind, wow, what a talent to take the reader along the Thames on a journey of discovery. There’s a chapter called Tributaries and I am not sure how many times I went back and read it for the sheer joy of capturing the essence of those words. There are quite a lot of characters in this book and it takes time to get them all sorted in our mind, but each and every character comes alive in ways that cannot be described totally.
Mind you, dear readers, this is not a book that can be read in a jiffy. It takes time to untangle the multitude of characters in the first place and the story takes its own time to develop. Enjoy this one with a cup of chai and lots of time to read!
Awesomeness beyond words!
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.
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