After what has felt like weeks of reading Once Upon a River, I am finally finished with this intricate story. Although I want to say I am in love with this Diane Setterfield piece, I am only “in like” with it. To be completely honest, on page 60 something, I texted my friend confused out of my mind and asked for her to decipher what was happening since she had read the story a few weeks prior to me. Her summary of what was going on at that time truly helped me get back into the story, but it did not help enough to keep me hooked on nights of pure exhaustion.
I do not want my confusion and teacher exhaustion to take away from this story though because I truly believe it is such a skillfully written story. It consists of so many levels, and I can definitely imagine a high school or college literature class dissecting the imagery, various settings, and endless list of characters. It’s a piece of art, no doubt.
So with that said, here’s what you may want to know…
Set along the River Thames, a photographer enters The Swan, a local bar, with a bundle in his arms. Quickly, the characters realize the bundle is a lifeless girl, and as they take her from him and begin to tend to his needs, the little girl comes back to life. The town is mystified by this event, and they spread the news throughout the neighboring streets.
With three families potentially facing the loss of their own little girl, the town sets out to figure out if the girl belongs to the Vaughns, the Armstrongs, or Ms. White. However, it’s never that easy because secrets from each family begin to creep into existence, and the reader learns that each family has darkness hidden within.
The river is a pivotal part of Once Upon a River, and our mysterious girl is drawn to its presence over and over again. However, the constant question is why?
With this review under wraps, I am vowing that my next book is going to be less intricate. I am keeping in mind that first semester back at school can be a dumpster fire, so I need to read things that require less deciphering. It’s only fair to the authors and books that I love.