Book Review: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

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A tale that bends and twists as much as the river it is set upon.  I stumbled across this book as a suggested read for Mother’s Day and I’m so glad I did.  At the beginning, a little girl shows up seemingly from the dead.  She fast becomes the center of stories along the river.  Several families claim she is their lost child, but no one can seem to actually place her as their own.  She doesn’t speak so she can’t tell her own story of how she ended up drowned in the river and brought back to life.  Each family, each person in the many stories has some connection to this little girl.  But she seems to have no connection to anyone.

The book is broken into five parts, each part telling in bits and pieces the stories (past and present) of all the players in the larger story.  I came to love so many of the characters in this book, hoping along with them that this little girl might be theirs and that they might then find the happiness alluding them.  But as the story goes on, it gets murkier and darker.  In the next several parts, mystery and murder start to show themselves bringing along characters that I definitely wanted to hate and truly hoped the little girl didn’t belong to them.  In the end, I was as shocked as everyone in the book as to the real mystery involving the girl and was just as happy as the characters as each one either found redemption or the happiness they sought.

This was an absolutely beautiful story.  It had a little of everything.  But not too much of anything.  And for once, I truly didn’t know the ending and was so pleasantly surprised!  As always, if you read this book, let me know what you think!

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