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Ratings and Reviews (4 4 star ratings
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    Stories within a story!

    I didn’t know what to expect when starting this book. Opening up with a brief description of the inns along the Thames, Setterfield creates a mystical world of dragons and stories. The Swan is the home of storytelling. The inn’s proprietor Joe has a gift for spinning a yarn. The other inn attendees take stories and make them their own. None of them has any idea about the story that is about to walk through the door. While the Swan takes center stage in this story, throughout the book you meet the leading players. Margot Ockwell and Joe Bliss run the inn. Margot is a stout, hearty soul who mothered 13 children, the little Margots and Jonathan. Joe was born with an ailment that kept him pale and feeble, but with a gift of storytelling he won Margot’s heart. The pair turn that Swan into the place along the Thames where you can hear and tell the most amazing tales. On the night of the winter solstice at the Swan, in walks a very large man with a doll like creature in his arms. He falls to the floor and the doll is swept away by Jonathan. In the ruckus that ensues around the man, no one realizes that the doll is really a young girl. And this is where the story begins. The characters you meet are each unique. Henry Daunt, the photographer and Rita Sunday, the nurse, who doubles as the town doctor are bound by her care for him that night. The mystery is the young girl without a voice. Where did she come from and to whom does she belong? What a story this is! Along the way you meet other local townspeople and folks from along the river. The Armstrong family, the Vaughans, and others all play a part in bringing the river to life. It is a mystical, magical tale with so many small stories within the larger story. It is a book to be savored by a winter’s fire with a cup of tea. Very reminiscent of fairy tales but on a much grander scale, I enjoyed this book immensely. Setterfield creates a fascinating world with dragons and river phantoms. Her gift for storytelling is amazing. Highly recommend!
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    Once Upon A River

    Diane Setterfield is an author who knows how to make readers time travel. I thoroughly enjoyed being transported to Stterfields London set in the real of magical realism. Like Hans Christian Andersen, Setterfield's Once Upon a River is sure to be renown as a classic contemporary fairytale. After her success with The Thirteenth Tale, Setterfield has continued her craft as a writer that allows her undertones of mesmerizing whimsy to transcend from the pages. Overall, the aura of mystery and intrigue just absolutely spellbinding and readers will find themselves reading through the pages at a rapid pace to reach the end of the story. I absolutely loved this book and I look froward to seeing Setterfield's craft as a writer develop.
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    Extraordinary tale

    26263627 Lisa Bateman's review Nov 30, 2018 · edit liked it I’ve had such mixed feelings about this book. At times it was five stars for me. I know people will love it. But I found myself having trouble staying engaged with the tale. I’ll get the negative part out of the way. I felt it was too long and there were so many characters. It would start off with a tale then carry into another where at times I forgot what I was reading about. I didn’t finish it but I am going to because I really want to know, not only about the girl, but all the characters and what takes place in their lives. So now for the positive. This author is AMAZING with story telling. Her writing is so poetic with pretty flowing of words. So much description done with flowery words and phrases, enough that it makes you want to know more. The story is so unique, unlike any I have read. It made me feel nostalgic for the fairy tales I heard and read as a child, except, this one is a fairytale for adults. It’s so magical with magical things taking place on the river. That was my favorite part. I would so love to see this author write a paranormal romance or fantasy novel. I know it would be the best ever!
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    Best book of 2019

    I’ve heard so many things about this book, so I picked it up hoping that it lived up to all that was said. There were many times I took a deep breath and thought oh yea, this is all that and so much more. I am new to Diane Setterfield so I was also excited to read a new to me author. Happily, I can now say that I am a fan and Diane is a must-read author. Once Upon a River is a slow burn story. There is a lot of description of the towns, the river, the surrounding areas, and the people. For me, that brought the story to life and made it more enjoyable as I was able to picture what I was reading about, hear the voices of the characters, and hear the sounds of the area. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and at the beginning I did have to go back and look at previous paragraphs to be sure I was keeping straight who was who but as I continued reading the characters all came together, I was easily able to keep straight who was who, and it was fun to see how they all came together to complete the story. The story, oh my… I was so caught up in it that I spent an entire Saturday just sitting and reading it. There was no hope that I would be stopping until I finished the entire book. There is magic, there is love, there is family, and there is a mystery all woven together to make a wonderful story. I felt a pull of the paranormal which just put it closer to being one of my favorites. While it is still early in 2019 I can see this becoming a book that I talk about throughout the year. It very well could make it into my best of 2019 list and is a book that I will recommend over and over again.
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