To be published December 4, 2018.
There’s nothing more telling than a story . . .
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath, and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.
Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.
Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family, reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep readers away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting them through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.
Advance Praise for ONCE UPON A RIVER by Diane Setterfield
“Once Upon a River is one of the most pleasurable and satisfying new books I’ve read in a long time. Setterfield is a master storyteller, her language flowing with a dark magic very like the river at the heart of her tale: swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful. Give yourself a treat and read it!”
—Madeline Miller, internationally bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles
“Diane’s masterful storytelling draws you in to a beguiling tale, full of twists and turns like the river at its heart, and just as rich and intriguing. It lures you into its depths and carries you along in its vividly evoked world.”
—M L Stedman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans
“I was completely spellbound by this book. Numerous strands of the same story are skillfully woven into a magical web from which I, as a reader, had no desire to escape. Setterfield’s prose is beautiful, dark and eerily atmospheric, and her rich cast of characters convincingly illustrate the best and worst of humanity. Utterly brilliant!”
—Ruth Hogan, internationally bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things
“Once Upon a River is a delight, just marvelous. I devoured it in gulps.”
—Jo Baker, internationally bestselling author of Longbourn
“Once Upon A River succeeds in doing what you hope every book will do – pull you in from the first page, hold you captive in the middle, then leave you satisfied and thoughtful at the end. I loved it.”
—Renee Knight, critically-acclaimed author of Disclaimer