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Once Upon a River  By  cover art

Once Upon a River

By: Diane Setterfield
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
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Publisher's summary

From the instant number one New York Times best-selling author of the “eerie and fascinating” (USA Today) The Thirteenth Tale comes a richly imagined, powerful 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.

A body always tells a story - but this child’s was a blank page.

Rita reached for the lantern on its hook. She trained its light on the child’s face.

"Who are you?" she murmured, but the face said as little as the rest of her. It was impossible to tell whether, in life, these blunt and unfinished features had borne the imprint of prettiness, timid watchfulness, or sly mischief. If there had once been curiosity or placidity or impatience here, life had not had time to etch it into permanence.

Only a very short time ago - two hours or not much more - the body and soul of this little girl had still been securely attached. At this thought, and despite all her training, all her experience, Rita found herself suddenly in the grip of a storm of feeling. All the old rage at God - for not being kind, for not being fair, and finally for just not being - swept her up all over again and she felt tears of anger on her face. She took the child’s hand in hers - the perfect hand with its five perfect fingers and their perfect fingernails - and the words fell out of her that she had not known were there:

"It should not be so! It should not be so!"

And that is when it happened.

©2019 Diane Setterfield (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

Featured Article: The Best Historical Fiction Audiobooks

Often based on real people, events, and scenarios, historical fiction gives us the opportunity to learn about worlds and times we will never experience while introducing fascinating characters and stories set in their midst. Sometimes, the genre can even give us a peek into hidden storylines that routinely go unmentioned in traditional history books, showing us that those of ages past are perhaps not so different from ourselves.

Editor's Pick

Swept in the current of a spellbinding story
"The events of Once Upon a River take place around the Winter Solstice in the late 19th century, and listening to it truly evokes that sense of sitting by the fireside on cold, dark night and listening to a story that’s at times hard to believe, but impossible to walk away from. It could almost be a lost Canterbury Tale, had it not been set a few hundred years later. Juliet Stevenson’s narration enhances the undercurrent of warmth and intrigue that keeps you glued for "just another hour" until the entire night has escaped you in the grip of transportive story. Diane Sitterfield’s previous novels have been on my "to-listen" list for months now; if she’s always been as gifted a storyteller as she is in Once Upon a River, they’ll be moving to the "listened and loved" list in no time."
Lavina K., Audible Editor