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LoraM

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Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

by Diane Setterfield

 

During a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, an injured man with a dead child are brought in from the river. The local healer is brought in and somehow, the dead child comes back to life.

 

This story had a poetic quality to the prose in the beginning redolent of a classic fairytale, yet the plot is totally original. I have to admit I wasn't sure what was going on for most of it. Is the child supernatural? Several people want to claim her, thinking it's a daughter or sister they lost. Perhaps an orphan child they might adopt. Somehow her features seem to appear familiar to all of them and each wants to take responsibility for her.

 

Eventually, towards the end, all is revealed and things begin to make sense, apart from the part that really is supernatural. It's a mystery story that moves at a slow pace, reflecting the effects of a slow moving river on the community that lives within the flood plain of its banks.

 

The only fast action is towards the end. This is one for the patient reader, and for those who like to spend most of the book working out the answer to a puzzling situation.