Book Review: Once Upon A River – Diane Setterfield

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.

Once Upon A River is an intriguing read and I’m really pleased to have picked this up for book club and that I was able to discuss with with a group of people because this is the kind of book you will want to talk about the whole way through, there’s a lot to cover.

I will admit that in the beginning I wasn’t sure about who everyone was, their part in the story it can be quite confusing pulling all the threads together and I did have to go back. That said, I actually ended up loving the fact that so many strands ended up coming together in the end and it added to the mystery element of it all.

While it might sound strange, the pace of the plot felt like it followed the path of a river. Some parts were slow and winding while you felt that other parts were rushing through and you couldn’t stop reading. It was an incredibly clever way to write and I give props to the author.

This is the kind of novel that creates a lot of theories. I was chatting and debating with my friends about who the girl was, where she came from, who I wanted her to be. I was immersed in this mystery and while the ending wasn’t what I expected I can understand it.

I think my favourite character of the whole book was the midwife of the town – she was incredibly interesting and her use of science and love it was a welcome addition to a book that is full of folklore and whispers of magic. It’s impressive how the author was able to combine these aspects.

I gave this book 4 stars. I think it’s a good read, but it does take a little bit of getting used to particularly in the beginning. I feel that it’s worth it and most of the people I’ve spoken to agree!

What I Read In October 2019!

So it might be a little late but I had a fantastic reading month in October with a lot of 4 and 5 star reads! I’m not going to spend too long rambling, instead, let’s get to the books.

So, P.S I Love You was one of my favourite books and up there with my favourite films too so I preordered the follow up as soon as I found out about it. When it came I was so nervous to read it – would it live up to the story I loved? It did Postscript is beautiful and I fell right back into Hollie’s world. A 5 star read for me.

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies was also a preordered book after I loved Scarlett Curtis’s Feminists Don’t Wear Pink. This a collection of essays about mental health from some people you’ll know such as Matt Haid, Emilia Clarke, Adam Kay and Scarlett herself. It was a brilliant collection and while it is quite hard hitting it’s an important read. A 4.5 star read.

For my book club read we picked up Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield and I really enjoyed it. It’s a little different in the way it’s told and has mystery elements, ghostly elements and more. It was a great read that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise – a fantastic advertisement for book clubs everywhere! A solid 4 star read.

The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson was one I picked up for myself about a girl who is rescued from a cult and what life is like for her once she leaves the only place she knows. I read this so quickly and I only wish it was longer! Another 4 star read.

I’ve watched a little Queer Eye and loved Jonathan so after seeing interviews of him promoting his book I decided to purchase the audiobook of Over The Top and it was perfect. This is fantastically funny but also deeply heartfelt and I learned so much through listening. A 5 star read and I’ve been recommending it to everyone!

I also listened to Freedom by Jaycee Dugard about her experiences after she was released from her horrific ordeal being kidnapped and forced to live with her captor and give birth to her daughters – fathered by him. An emotional 4 star book.

Next up two more non-fiction reads. I listened to MP Jess Phillips’ newest book Truth To Power and it was absolutely brilliant and just what I needed when we’re heading towards a General Election. A 5 star read for troubling times.

I also picked up Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas from the wonderful Adam Kay author of This Is Going To Hurt. This is a short read but an incredibly important one. It made me appreciate the NHS even more because of the pressure that they face, even more so in the winter. A must read that I’ve persuaded book club to pick up – 5 stars!

Heartstream is the thriller I didn’t know I needed. Tom Pollock is an excellent storyteller and I tweeted him almost immediately after finishing asking for more! I gave this 4.5 stars.

And last but definitely not least was Dear Girls by Ali Wong. I think Ali is hilarious and I loved both of her Netflix specials so when I heard she was writing a book I was down! Again, I listened to the audiobook for this one and I’m glad I did. This is all about Ali’s life and the lessons she wants to teach her daughters (although it is definitely for a mature audience) there was also a really sweet addition by her husband at the end. This was a 4.5 star read for me.

What did you read in October? Let me know in the comments below. 👇