Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Book review by:

Norma Frood

Setterfield, Diane (2018) Once upon a river. Black Swan [isbn 9781784163631]

Once Upon a River is an intriguing story. It starts in an ancient inn when an injured stranger bursts in carrying a drowned child’s body. Not a very auspicious start, one might think, but the child returns to life. The mystery begins – who is the child? Various characters appear to claim her as their own.

The characters are all vividly drawn. Each of their stories adds to the central theme, much like a river’s tributaries joining the main river course. The tale twists and turns until it comes to an enigmatic conclusion.

The story is set in about the 1870s and is based on the River Thames from Cricklade to Oxford. The author includes an interesting map. The inn and the manor house are both actual properties and can be visited.