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  • Location: London, Oxfordshire

Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River

Why a Booktrail?

1800s?: Just what secrets does the river hold? And which ones will it reveal?

  • ISBN: 978-0857525659
  • Genre: Fiction, Folklore

What you need to know before your trail

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?

Travel Guide

BookTrail Travel to the River Thames

Meet author Diane Setterfield on #Authorsonlocation

The River Thames

This is  a magical tale of how one river can flow through so many villages and hamlets bringing secrets, taking them away and mesmerizing the people who sail on it, and drown in it. The trail of the river evoked in the novel is the stretch between Trewsbury Meed and Shoeburyness

The Swan Inn

There really is a Swan Inn at Radcot and this is the central part of the story. It’s where the story starts and where so many stories are told.

“The Swan at Radcot had its own specialism.”  It was where you went for storytelling.”

“The Swan was a very ancient inn, perhaps the most ancient of them all. It had been constructed in three parts,: one was old, one was very old and one was older still.”


Buscot is the village down the river where the parsonage sits. There is a parsonage you can visit here and it’s a National trust property

Brand Island and Devil’s Weir

This little island is in the middle of the river at Radcot. Devil’s Weir is further down stream and is the dangerous part of this river of legends and folklore. It’s where tales of evil and danger lurk. No one now knows this river will go there.


This is in Gloucestershire  on the edges of the Cotswolds on the banks of the Thames. The small village features in the novel and looks very oldie worldie even today. There are inns here like the one in the book and it’s where Bess and her husband live, close to Kelmscott Manor.


The city of Oxford plays  small yet important role as Mr Daunt owns a photography shop here and takes some rooms on Broad Street.


Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

What a glorious ode to storytelling!

From the opening page, this was lyrical and like music to my ears.

Set in the countryside and along the banks of the Thames. this is a novel I am going to remember for a long time.

Full review on the blog: https://www.thebooktrail.com/a-magical-novel-set-along-the-banks-of-the-thames/

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Once upon a River

Destination: London, Oxfordshire Author/guide: Diane Setterfield Departure Time: long ago

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