Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early review copy which will publish Dec. 4, 2018.  All thoughts are my own.
Writing: 4 Plot: 5+ Characters: 4

An old-fashioned Story (with a capital S!) full of richly drawn archetypal characters, a convoluted but cohesive plot, and just the hint of inexplicable mysteries.

In (roughly) England in the mid-1800s, near a powerful river that may or may not be the Thames, there stands The Swan — a country inn known for the storytelling skills of its patrons. One night during a rough storm the regulars swear to a Miracle — the corpse of a drowned child, pale and angelic, comes to life hours after the local healer pronounced her dead. The child has a strange effect on those who see her — she raises an inexplicable feeling of connection and need in them all. Lily White swears the child is her long-dead sister Ann; the Vaughans are convinced she is the child abducted from them two years ago; Robert Armstrong thinks it is the abandoned child of his neer-do-well son Robin. Launched by this perceived Miracle, there are stories upon stories, many intertwined, all of them rich, some bursting forth while others are slowly extracted. The overall pacing at which the confusion unravels is just right. With beautiful descriptions of the countryside and the different moods of the river, it is a lyrical tale about the power of storytelling that utterly embodies the point!

Great for fans of Alice Hoffman or Charles De Lint.