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Once Upon a River: 05/22/21
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield opens with a lengthy poetic introduction to the Thames and life along it — not life in London, but further up stream. It then settles on a pub that's at water's edge, where a man and a girl are found nearly drowned. The girl they believe is beyond saving, until she awakens and is declared a miracle.
This opening promised a similar narrational approach to storytelling as Greenglass House by Kate Milford but aimed at an adult audience. More accurately, the novel promised to be a modern (albeit with an historic setting) Canterbury Tales in prose.
Instead of getting a bunch of distinct but intertwined or related stories, the novel unravels into two many similar narratives of missing children and broken families. The gist is the half drowned man and girl brings a number of hopeful family members to see if she is their missing child.
While numerous family reunions could be a satisfying read, this book suffers from pacing issues and having too many characters of similar type and name. To get the most out of this book, if, say, I was reading it for a literature class, I would need to diagram everyone as they are introduced and track their progress. As I was reading for pleasure, I skimmed the majority of the book save for the first hundred pages and the last hundred pages of nearly five hundred page volume.