From the instant #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a new novel about how we explain the world to ourselves, ourselves to others, and the meaning of our lives in a universe that remains impenetrably mysterious.
These characters are finely drawn and wholly sympathetic, their lives rendered in precise, poignant detail. The female characters particularly are gifted with uncommon clarity, each of a different kind ... Though Setterfield writes emotions with marvelous truth and subtlety, her most stunning prose is reserved for evocative descriptions of the natural world, creating an immersive experience made of light, texture, scent and sensation ... The novel’s central mysteries are dispatched in one dramatic scene that feels overwrought, especially given that this is not a tightly plotted whodunit so much as a story for those who appreciate the tale’s telling as much as its end...
A mesmerizing, moody tale of identity, family, secrets, and storytelling ... The story unfolds at an almost maddeningly slow pace until, at last, all the truths are revealed. Setterfield fills this richly layered plot with a fascinating cast of memorable characters who weave in and out of each other’s lives.
In Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River, you won’t forget that you’re reading a story—its language and framework are almost constantly calling attention to the story’s story-ness—but you probably won’t mind, either. It’s a corker of a story, full of moody elegance, as a good Gothic should be ... The characters Setterfield devises for the novel are every bit as colorful and mysterious as you would hope them to be ... Whether you raptly follow this story all the way to its conclusion or drift away partway through will probably depend on two things: how urgently do you want to know who that little girl really is? And does the story-ness of it all increase your enjoyment of the book or interfere with it? ... If you like your stories intricately woven, dark but not grim, and shared with warmth and sparkle, you won’t regret putting yourself in this storyteller’s hands.