Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield

once upon a riverThere was a tradition at the Swan, an ancient inn on the banks of the Thames. It was a tradition of storytelling. Joe Bliss was very good at storytelling. His wife ran the inn. Joe told the stories. And it was a hundred years ago on solstice night, when dreams and stories merge with true tales, that this story began. The door burst open and admitted a tall man, face dripping blood, mouth torn open, clothes soaking wet. And in his arms was a tiny little girl, dead, drowned. They sent for Rita, a nurse, to sew up the man.  When she was done she went to where they had put the child. No breathing, no pulse, full dilation of the pupils. The child was surely dead, but she looked too perfect. Rita held her hand, said it should not be so. And the child opened her eyes. Mysteries abound. Who is this child, why does she not speak, did she really die and come back? I really don’t know how to classify this book. Is it mystery, folk tale, supernatural story, romance, all of the above? I do know that it is full of atmosphere, taking the reader into another time when anything could be true. It is a rather quiet book, full of interesting people with interesting stories, slowly unfolding. I enjoyed it very much.

eGalley review                                                              Publication date 1.8.19

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