On a dark midwinter’s night, in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories. The door bursts open, and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child. Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Miracle? Magic? And, of course, who does the little girl belong to when more than one claims her? Once Upon a River is a mystery framed by folklore, romance, the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, but also looks to how we understand and process grief.
One of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had since joining Hatchards as their Events & Marketing Manager was attending the launch celebration of this book. There, on the phone, and over coffee since, we have spoken about the “threads attaching the pearls of this story together” and it is something I even better understood after having recently read another of her books, Bellman & Black. With both, we are confronted with the story we face if we deny the power of talking therapies, of processing rather than simply keeping busy for as long as possible. They made me realise I had developed my own ‘workaholism’ to cope – fundraising, to some degree, is my keeping busy when I feel sad. I now see I have that to work on, and have added it to the list of reasons I need to thank Diane.
For Once Upon a River, I will walk the full Thames Path – 186 miles – over the course of 4 days to raise money for Tommy’s.