Cover Image: Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River

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Member Reviews

Tales of the river Thames. Magic & Folklore. A girl is found in the river, but who is she? 

A story of sadness, trickery, tomfoolery and hope.

This was a labour of love, I had to work so hard to get through the first half, I do feel a little rewarded with the rest but I had to really persist and that's why I've marked it down to three stars. 

I've never read anything by this author before, but I would again. Despite it being an effort, I did enjoy it. Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read for an honest review.
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I very nearly gave up on this tale early on as it is very slow to get going. But I'm so glad I stuck with it as it is quite delightful. It slowly reveals its layers and gets richer and deeper as it goes on, rewarding the patience reader with well drawn characters and an enthralling plot. The magical realism is so deftly done that it seems simultaneously barely there and yet also hugely significant. I love the ending as it offers satisfying resolutions and a lingering mystery as well. A lovely book, so well written and highly recommended.
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A stunning playful, deep, entrancing inhabitation of the power of ‘Tell Me A Story’

With this third book Diane Setterfield has equalled the immersive, addictive enchantment of her first extraordinary novel.

This is both a continuing riff on the power and form of narrative, and the deep hunger humans have in the patterns of story, and the pleasure in their crafting, an assured setting out of any number of recurring story tropes, and the creation of  a whole raft of wonderful characters who become friends the reader roots for.

Set near to one of the possible sources of the River Thames – there are 3 reputed sources, just like there may be more than one disputed originations of a story – this takes place in early Victorian England. Radcot, where this is set, is made a village which values storytelling above all else, and the Swan Inn, at Radcot, was where you went if you valued a well told tale.

One night, an injured stranger, clearly drenched from the river, stumbles into The Swan, bearing a dead child in his arms. And so begins a tale of missing children, loving parents, cruel parents, marriages made in heaven or the other place, and a little bit (possibly) of magic.

This is a book which reinforces everything about why those of us who love reading, devour a book like this with intense pleasure.

Setterfield is something of a magician…………………..
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I absolutely adore THE THIRTEENTH TALE so was excited to read the author's latest offering. It was a haunting tale with the beautiful writing style I've come to love. It sweeps the reader along on an unforgettable journey and I loved every moment.
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I really enjoyed this book.  A large cast of characters which was a little confusing but all well written.  I loved the magical elements.  Definitely worth a read.
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A cleverly woven story that combines magic, mystery and science with a bit of fairy dust. The folks that live on the river and frequent The Swan thought they had seen most things, until one night a young deceased girl is bought into the pub in the arms of an injured man. Imagine the confusion and stories that will be told when it is discovered that the girl is no longer dead, but has come back to life.
For some, it is river magic, for others they long to find out the science behind her revival, but one thing is for sure, it will be told in stories far and wide and none that were there that night will ever forget. 
More pressing though, is who is she and where did she come from? There are those willing to claim her, but will we ever find out the truth of who she is and how did she get to be in the river that night?
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would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this book

not my normal genre but i found it kept my attention right to the end
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An atmospheric, magical and mysterious tale that takes the reader on a journey along part of the river Thames in Oxfordshire, and introduces us to a intriguing cast of characters, presenting us with the mystery of a girl who appeared to have died, but then comes back to life. There are very well developed characters, tender moments, and an array of emotions portrayed. An epic tale to become immersed in.
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I really enjoyed this book 

A bit of a spooky story regarding the dead little girl’s character keeps you wondering if she is really dead or not

Highly recommended
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The book is well written and the story well told. Just when you thought you knew what was going to happen next the author took you in another direction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The only reason I gave it four stars is because there are a lot of characters and sometimes I had to go back to figure out who and how the character was related. Other than that this book has it all; mystery, romance, historical fiction, violence, a tiny bit of sex, fantasy, great characters, and great stories. Highly recommend this book.
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an interesting melding of strands here, different stories weave together to produce a page turner mystery tale, well worth a read,
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There was much to enjoy here, but I found I couldn't connect with it. I'd read more from this author in the future though.
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I quickly found that this wasn’t the book for me. I was not enjoying it nor did I find it entertaining in the least. I picked it based on the author but I can’t say it’ll lead me to think of her work more fondly than I had
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An amazing read. I couldn't out it down. So descriptive & hugely atmospheric. A wonderful tale with meticulous detail. A classic.
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Part historical fiction, part magic, part mystery, this was a really great read. I loved the writing style: it was beautiful and unique and transported me completely into the book's world.

It did feel a bit slow for me at times, and I found some parts slightly confusing but I ended up really enjoying this regardless!
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Once upon a time – we still see echoes of it today – people gave offerings to the water goddesses. And in this story we delve back into the myths surrounding these water goddesses and fairies and the birth caul, as well as the River Thames.
In the time when traffic on the river was heavy and barges came and went loaded up with goods that were easier to transport on water than road, we find ourselves stopping at ancient inns along the towpaths. And in the dark evenings, sitting around the fireplace, stories were told to keep the travellers entertained.
The Swan Inn was such an Inn situated in the watercress fields – fields nourished by the dead bodies of those that fell in a long ago battle. The Thames has been fought over for many centuries – from Alfred onwards. Later than the time of this story, a railway was built – called the WaterCress Line (!), just to bring this prized salad crop to London. Watercress is an aquatic plant species with the botanical name Nasturtium officinale.
In former times there was little choice of green vegetables in Winter and Watercress filled that gap with its ability to crop at least 4 times a Season. https://astonrowant.wordpress.com/ewelme-watercress-beds/ 
I really liked the way the story was told. The sentences and phrasing reminded me of nineteenths century novels. It is slow and detailed and the characters come to life and talk to you.
There is a narrator too who tells a different story – the story of rivers, the Thames and links into the various lore of the different traditions.
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A beautifully written story with a Gothic atmosphere that keeps you hooked, a fairytale for modern readers that I enjoyed thoroughly and would recommend to anyone!
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A book of many emotions is how I would describe this. It left me feeling perhaps a little unsettled at times and racing through to find out what happened next at others. The writing itself certainly has style; the author writes with charm and is extremely descriptive. I found myself reading the odd passage out to my husband, whether he wanted me to or not. I was utterly charmed at points. 

I feel like it's a book I need to read again to fully appreciate it, but I would absolutely recommend it and do look first to reading more by this author.
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Beautifully written atmospheric story. Cant believe its taken me so long to get around to reading this one. It's part historical fixtion, part mystery, part fairytale.and very magical. A great read. Thank you Netgalley for the digital copy in return for an honest.
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A story of mystery and suspense set in Dickensian time by a river on a dark night. Kept me enthralled throughout - a good read
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