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Once Upon a River

Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 16 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (184 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

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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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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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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
  • 29-08-2019

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
  • 26-06-2019

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.

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Wonderful stuff!

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

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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.

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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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BRILLIANT

once again Diane Setterfield had me engrossed in the lives of her characters. Was sad when it came to an end and I had to leave them behind

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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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  • Earnest
  • 12-12-2019

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
  • 08-11-2019

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
  • 09-02-2019

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
  • 13-11-2019

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-01-2019

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
  • 04-02-2019

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
  • 04-02-2019

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.
  • 30-07-2019

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.
  • 29-01-2019

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
  • 02-02-2019

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
  • 18-04-2019

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
  • 14-11-2019

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
  • 04-11-2019

Extraordinary

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

2 people found this helpful