Once Upon a Time, there was a river

5fadc782-fd8f-4a37-bfe3-30fb8c376f40There are books that take you away from your reality, cutting your ties with daily hassles and absorb you in. Have you recently read one like that?

#OnceUponARiver by Diane Setterfield definitely fits that category. It’s filled with magical realism- but surprisingly some science too- lots of interesting characters, a Negro farmer with a golden heart, her wife with a magical eye that sees through people. A couple with a lost child. A lady with a lost childhood. A boy that doesn’t fit. The characters are so beautifully told, and each of them has their own stories, knitted around the story of 2 little girls. I couldn’t help shedding a few tears, but the book is not a heartbreaking one, it’s so purely written and beautifully read.

840318a1-7f40-44f8-bc03-6e32196a497aOnce upon a time, the river brings a dead girl to those people. A girl of four. Lying on a pub’s room, the dead girl comes back to life. But who is this girl, really? What’s her story?

‘It is plain she is gone, poor lass. She is not breathing, and besides, you have only to look at her colour. Who will carry the poor child to the long room? You take her, Higgs. ’

‘But it’s cold there,’ Jonathan protested.

His mother patted his shoulder. ‘She won’t mind that. She is not really here any more, and it is never cold in the place she has gone to.’

‘Let me carry her.’

‘You carry the lantern, and unlock the door for Mr Higgs . She’s heavy for you, my love.’

Setterfield magically binds the stories of each character into each other, and until theend the book doesn’t let you go. You rarely see a book with all three pillars of a novel very well done, the plot, the structure and the characters. This book does them all. So beautiful. Read it, if you like magical realism or the river Thames.

I don’t know if you have obsessive rules like I do, but I am glad I read this book in hardcover. I love books like this to materialise in my hands. Sitting on my favourite chair, I dissolved into the plot and it was so joyful.

Funny I know, but books like this one, I cannot read on Kindle, I don’t like to read e-copies of  books that touch my soul. Is it Weird?


  1. Excellent review and pics! I agree, although it’s with any book that I like the hardcover best. Glad you loved this one. 😊


      • That’s really surprising! I wonder if it’s the lighter weight? My only issue with hardcover is the dust jacket. I always leave it on and should probably remove it when reading. Damage makes me cringe! Lol 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful review Ova, I have this book sitting on my shelf and can not wait to read it. I read somewhere that if you like stories about stories (which I do), then it’s the right choice. Your review sealed that choice for sure. 😊


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s