Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
The Swan at Radcot is an ancient, friendly little pub set on the Thames that specializes in the telling of stories. One winter solstice the pub goers and the residents up and around the river all have a similar feeling: something is going to happen. And happen it did. A man, face beaten, barely conscious from exhaustion is brought into The Swan with a child in his arms. The man is put in a back room to recover after his collapse but the little girl is past saving and is put in an outbuilding until the stranger awakens and can identify her. The local midwife comes to tend the man and decides to check on the girl. The little girl is most definitely dead. Until she is not.
Is the little girl the child of the wealthy couple up the Thames whose child was kidnapped? Is she the sister of the pastor’s maid? Or is she the daughter of a man who hasn’t seen his child since her birth four years before? All are convinced the child is theirs yet the child is not talking. Could she be another child still?
Set in the late 1800s this tale reads like a gothic faery tale and only the occasional references to trains and electricity will solidify the time period in a reader’s mind. It is woven slowly and wraps you into it’s weave. A very atmospheric read that is perfect for a cold winter’s night.
Be ready for this book to come your way on December 4th.