When I decided to take up the Reading Women Challenge, I knew that by no means will it be an easy one to do, but looking at each of the 24 prompts in more detail, it slowly made me realise just how tough this is going to be.
With that also came the sad realisation of how limited our reading shelves can sometimes be, owing to the hyped-up bestsellers that are plastered all over Bookstagram and the same books being recommended everywhere.
After much deliberation, the prompt I selected for January was ‘A Book With a Cover Designed By A Woman’. It was a tough one, because not every book mentions it, and you REALLY have to look closely to find who designed a particular book cover.
The Goodreads Group for The Reading Women Challenge was particularly useful, additionally I found a wonderful resource on this Instagram page: She Designs Books. Have a browse, they showcase some truly incredible work.
My quest led to ‘Once Upon a River’ by Diane Setterfield – one of my own backlisted books, that I had abandoned midway in December.
What’s better is that it also helped me complete two prompts at once, the second being ‘A Book with a Rural Setting’ 🙂
I am well proud of my little achievement, and am already looking forward to February. But first, a little bit about Once Upon a River.
Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield
It is a dark winters night, winter solstice in fact, and all the locals are gathered at The Swan at Radcot, along the river Thames, for an evening drink and a bit of a story telling. All of a sudden a severely injured man bursts into the inn with a dead girl in his arms. Just as the villagers are wondering what to do next, the child breathes and comes back to life.
What follows in the next 500 pages in a slow meandering tale, much like a river, with its many tributaries branching out into several different storylines, all culminating into a story full of magic, mystery and also a hint of evil.
Now this one was a difficult read. I first picked up this book in December 2020 and I really loved the initial few chapters, especially the writing which is so very magical and Diane Setterfield has done a stellar job with scene setting and character building.
But the book is S-L-O-W. Written in 5 parts and a total of about 500-ish pages, the story only actually picks up in around the 370-page mark.
And then there are sentences like these which makes the going very slow “Something happens and then something else happens and then all sorts of other things happen” I mean 😦
I nearly gave it 4 stars as the ending really does make up for all the hard work you put in, but I’ll concede with 3.5 as this book really could have done with a bit more editing to tighten it.
Beautiful story, amazing premise and the writing is magical, but loses out on the pace and grasp of the narrative.
Are you doing any reading challenges? How it is coming along?