Once Upon A River Review
Diane Setterfield’s novel The Thirteenth Tale was a bestselling and was adapted into a
successful BBC TV film. This new novel is an atmospheric tale set in a little village on a
bend of the River Thames in the 19 th century. With a story involving mystery, intrigue
and a hint of the supernatural, it’s a surprising and engaging story.
Then a half-drowned man bursts into the pub with the body of a little girl in his arms.
One winter solstice, in the Swann Inn at Radcott, the regulars are regaling each other
with stories of times past. Jonathan, the young son of landlord Joe and landlady Margot,
has always wanted to be a storyteller, and is listening intently. Then a half-drowned man
bursts into the pub with the body of a little girl in his arms. In the hurry to aid the man,
the girl is first thought to be a doll, but Jonathan soon realises that she’s a real girl.
The girl is taken into a back room, where she’s examined by the local midwife, Rita. It
seems clear that she’s dead, but then a miracle happens – she breathes again and
comes back to life. But the mystery deepens as she cannot seem able to talk. Just who is
she and where did she come from?
Could she be the long-lost daughter of Mr and Mrs Vaughan, who disappeared two years
earlier? Or is she the granddaughter of local farmer Robert Armstrong, whose wayward
son Robin has long been a worry for him and his wife? And what of domestic servant Lily
White, who has recently moved into the tiny Basketman’s Cottage? She’s convinced the
child is her sister Ann… and yet Ann disappeared more than forty years earlier.
In a story which takes in new ideas and sciences such as evolution and photography, this
is a captivating novel of the missing and found, family love and betrayal, the power of
storytelling, and the infinite mysteries of a rolling river.
Written by Ruth, Marketing