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Once Upon a River

Written by: Diane Setterfield
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 16 hrs and 26 mins
5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Once Upon a River, written by Diane Setterfield and read by Juliet Stevenson. 

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child. 

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.  

Is it a miracle?  

Is it magic?  

Or can it be explained by science?   

An exquisitely crafted multilayered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s best seller The Thirteenth Tale.

©2018 Diane Setterfield (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Once Upon a River

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping story. Beautiful narration.

I didn't know much about the story when I picked up this book. I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. Every chapter leaves you wanting more. It's so well written. The mystery, the details, the characters. Everything is impeccable. Lastly, I don't think I can commend the narration well enough. It's utterly beautiful. Juliet Stevenson is truly a artist. You can feel the story taking place around you. You feel like a spectator. His voice got me teary eyed towards the end. Everything about this book is just beautiful.

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Great read

It was a heartfelt book.The story has a strong core of melancholy and it adds to its serene pace.A good book becomes a good book by pure detailing and this work is full of it.
 Each character is flushed out  immaculately and the background of an all seeing river compounds to its poignant tone. There is an air of mystery to it but more than the mystery what really works out is its charm.
The author has shown such deftness in dealing with her characters and we really feel for them.
like all the good stories it talks about love and she has done it with lot of love.
I perused the audible version of it and I have to tell you it was absolutely blissful. Her country English dialect and heartfelt narration moved me to tears.
It talks about loss of a chid and recovery of her , to put it  bluntly but it talks about a lot more than that.
Beautifully written and wonderfully narrated Once upon a river is a gem of a novel.Let this river sweep you away.You wont regret it one bit.

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What an amazing story!

It was so brilliantly written and the story was so captivating that it kept me hooked 1st page to the last. And what's better? Even the back-stories of every character was so so good! Loved it!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Earnest
  • 12-12-19

Enchanting, watery story.

Although I did get a little muddled by how many children drowned or did not,( my fault no doubt),I did become engrossed in all the tales of families and life on a river.
Being familiar with the Collodion photographic technique, I was also appreciative of how the author integrated this important development in the history of image capture.
The actor’s voice characterizations were so apt and skilled. No wonder Ms Stevenson has been much “used” on stage, screens and audio.

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  • MsHolistic
  • 08-11-19

thoroughly enjoyed.

although i really enjoyed this book, it took me 3 hours to get 'in' to it and with all the names it become a but confusing at times. The book as a whole is wonderfully written and the accents were really enjoyable.

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  • Bea
  • 09-02-19

A most stunning novel!

If you are planning to read just one book this year, let it be Once Upon the River!! Stories, magic and beautiful language you will find in it .... Ms Stevenson's narration is an absolute delight!

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  • C. Long
  • 13-11-19

Delightful!

I stumbled onto this book by accident. I was getting tired of books being recommended for me based on my listening history, so I went rouge, searching through books I never usually seek out and saw this. The great reviews convinced me to try it and....
What a delight! The story was so well crafted, so unusual and magical that the book i had hoped would keep me occupied for a week or so, was devoured in two days between work and real life!

Juliet Stevenson was superb. The perfect storyteller.

My only sadness is that the Thirteenth tale by the same author, is not available for purchase as an audible book in my country and already I am feeling bereft of a good audio book!

Would totally recommend.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-01-19

Wonderful!

Tales within a tale! The characters brought to life by Juliet’s superb narration. This book will stay in my thoughts for quite sometime. Thank you Diane and Juliet for the pleasure I had in listening to this book.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Dia P
  • 04-02-19

Wonderful listen!

I haven't even reached the half of it, but I love it tremendously. Lovely story and fantastic performance by Juliet Stevenson!

15 people found this helpful

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  • jlbenefield
  • 04-02-19

Great story

Loved it- a gentle tale which kept me listening wonderfully narrated will now look for more by the same author

14 people found this helpful

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  • Dale W.
  • 30-07-19

Far too slow.

This is the first book I have not finished.
Well read with good voices. There are no humorous moments, it’s all a bit dull and serious.
Story is not complicated, girl is lost, who does she belong to? That’s the problem. We then meander to everybody’s private lives. I found it too easy not to listen.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Susan B.
  • 29-01-19

Serendipity

I came across this by accident because I was searching for books read by Juliet Stevenson who is one of my favourite readers. It was 16 hours of delight. I loved every minute of it. Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful performer and the story had me completely absorbed. There were one or two moments in the final hour where the book could have been drawn to a close and left one wondering, which might have been more literary, but I was so involved that I wanted every loose end tied up and the author managed to do this and still leave something to wonder about.

17 people found this helpful

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  • polo
  • 02-02-19

Slow to get going

I nearly gave up as it took me a while to get into. The story was good and the narration excellent.

10 people found this helpful

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  • SMC
  • 18-04-19

Far too long for the story content

Really dissapointed with this book, as, from the 5* reviews I had read, I was expecting to be enthralled and captivated from the outset to the end.
The narrator is all that kept me listening to be honest, the first few chapters were promising but after that I found that the story did not really move on, and none of the characters held my imagination.. in fact, at the end of the book if asked to describe one character I liked, would have found it hard to connect to any of them

The odd thing is that the final summing up chapters gave a bit more interest which is why my headline says the book went on for far too long going nowhere, for the complete story contents.

Sorry my first book of this author does not encourage further reading.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Vicky Hall
  • 14-11-19

Highly recommended

The most beautiful tale I have listened to yet on Audible....mesmerising and will stay with me forever!

3 people found this helpful

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  • N. Willimasoon
  • 04-11-19

Extraordinary

Gloriously imagined and written. Pitch perfect performance. Absolutely faultless. To listen to and read again!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nola J Pearce
  • 06-02-19

Brilliant. Wonderfully written and narrated.

I loved this book. Truly beautiful writing (overlooking the incessant need to end sentences...and indeed the story itself! with a preposition), with engaging original characters. I loved the narration, in beautifully spoken English with wonderful character voices, almost always proceeding at a riverly pace.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Gabrielle Karsai
  • 10-06-19

Perfect

This is a perfect marriage of story and narrator. Juliet Stevenson uses different tones, inflections and accents to make each character sing. Sublime! The story is full of human tragedy, tinged with magic and mystery. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Helen
  • 04-10-19

I did not want this to end

This was an expertly crafted, delicious read that just had so many delicate layers. the characters were so real and timeless. A superb storyline. possibly one of the most impressive books I have listened to in a long time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joy
  • 29-08-19

Great storytelling!

The narrator was brilliant. The story was a facinating tale. I looked forward to listening every day. I will be looking forward to another story by the same author.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ej
  • 26-06-19

A wonderful story a joy to listen to with ease

Absolutely superb narration and absorbing storyline.l loved it. I was sorry it ended. Read it and see fit yourself.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jutta Zotz
  • 21-06-19

Wonderful stuff!

A beautiful and evocative story, well written and read. I loved every minute of it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amanda Vermeulen
  • 14-06-19

Lovely, lyrical tale and extraordinary narration

After a few attempts, I eventually gave this book the attention it deserves. Setterfield's story and the narration by Juliet Stevenson were wonderful. It's a simple story of love, entwined with the mythology of the Thames River. Beautifully written, and Stevenson confirms once again why she is one of the most talented actors of her generation. I look forward to more Diane Setterfield books, and other narrations by Stevenson.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-02-19

I wanted to enjoy, but couldn't!

I tried really hard to enjoy this book, but it just never took off. I enjoyed the setting, but the characters and storyline I found just so boring! I could never quite tell if the book was written for adults or children either. The constant introduction of new characters made it hard work trying to remember who each person was and what importance they had to the story. The storyline itself seemed very basic, and did not grab me, leaving me caring what happened. I see most reviews have been positive, but for me it was frustratingly slow and boring.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-20

Given the good reviews, I expected more.

Nice book, easy read, although I struggled to stay focused at the times, particularly first third of the book. The only reason I didn't give up was because of the excellent narrator. Story is good but unnecessarily dragging at the beginning. All in all it will keep you ocupied while commuting to work.

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  • Carol Anne Harvey
  • 18-06-20

Disappointing

I tried hard to like this book but, sadly, it didn’t happen and I gave up.