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Once upon a river - review

There is an art in storytelling, as we all know, you need 'Once upon a Thames' to start with, especially if your story is connected with the River itself.

The immediacy of this story is breathtaking, it is like the fastest swirl of water flowing and dragging you into it's eddies and flows. Quite remarkable.

To be taken within a world instantly real and with characters instantly recognisable is a true gift that Diane has, the blend and texture she uses is like the best instant watercolour coming to life akin to the old TV shows, forming as you watch, in this case read.

One thing she does better than ever the best food/drink writer, is bring taste and smell into the equation, it is sublime, you feel what you read, you smell certain characters with their aroma of discomfort.

Their is a real feel of the period, it is written as though Dickens could have been editing, sensational storytelling in the pub, for many the only place they'd sit and listen quietly, and oh, Quietly is so important.

Like a whisper of silent oars the Ferryman is both revered and feared, but, he is always honest and always there when needed.

Taking so many snippets and piecing them together in a detective novel without any detectives or some could  say bodies is also very clever, well, there maybe bodies, we will see...

In many ways Diane has created a perfect book, it has something for everyone, there is romance and intensity of feeling, there is mystery and intrigue, plenty of it. There is social commentary and a real feel for the place and it's history.

Really the most magical thing is the sensory nature of Diane's story, it overcomes all the senses and when characters no matter how big, cry, you do. When they eat, you do and when they are wet, you are too, I actually felt myself drawing breath as though drowning several times.

With life on and around a river, the folks must know what they need to know, marks of floods, when you can swim, when the rapids rise and you can't sail through, all the realities of a severe and yet rewarding life of old is here, we modernites really know not. 

Who is in the story? So many wonderful and so well imagined characters, no one stands out and no one is overlooked, they all share the story and all breath life into it, even those that have no life.

Personally, I loved Daunt, based on a real photographer of the time called Taunt, but his name is so well made for this story,  having used photography myself the pure scope for bringing the early stages of it to life with all it's smoke and mirrors and chemicals and timings topped with Victorian formalities and yet a tenderness and realisation of it keeping time motionless, especially the Solstice... it sort of brings home the bacon.

Secrets and lies and many truths are told, eloquently and with charm, the characters relate and respond to each other, they are as real as ever they could be. The scenes with the butcher's boy, Ben so cleverly placed are hidden gems of a homage to Dickens and Collins and their views of class and communication.

Diane is appearing on tour, hopefully many will meet her around the Thames basin, some can venture to meet her in Bolton on Tue 29th January 1pm in the wonderful Library, we'll be there selling her stunning book for £10 and her previous ones at £6 so you can order...
paypal me tonythebook@live.co.uk with names and what you want, or come along and listen to her, I am sure it will be just like a leisurely punt, quietly on the softly flowing Thames, but quietly does it is always the best way to go...