Another fun work of fiction of religious interest, Once Upon A River

Some time back a few of us followed @Mervin_Bitikofer in reading The Sparrow and its sequel The Children of God by Mary Doria Russell. It raised questions of religious interest when humans initiated first contact with an extra terrestrial sentient race on their own planet. In addition the mission was made under the auspices of the Jesuits and it turned out that there were two sentient alien species on that other planet, one evolved as a herbivore and the other from a carnivore. Good stuff.

I’m reading another book now called Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield that came out last year. Where the Russell books were ostensibly works of science fiction, this book would be classified as a mystery - not a common genre for me. But as with the Russell books, Setterfield’s book raises questions of religious significance and just plain questions of what it means to be human. It is set in 1887 England, is extremely well written and contains several compelling characters. The nurse is probably my favorite. Removed from her mother after her death by suicide, she is raised at the nunnery where her dying mother was brought and takes an interest in helping at the hospital there. She becomes very capable and would have continued on since she certainly had no interest in marriage or, most especially, having children after having attended so many child births that proved fatal to the mother. Then one day “collecting herbs on the riverbank, it occurred to her that there was no life beyond this one”. I suppose that gives her two things in common with the late Mother Teresa.

I mention it now, not quite half way through, because it is the book of the month for December at another Christian website, Ship Of Fools. I don’t usually read books as part of a group but it was certainly interesting being able to discuss the Russell books with Mervin and Phil, AKA @jpm. So if anyone is interested, I can let you know how that goes. If anyone else picks it up I’d also be happy to discuss it here with anyone interested. Frankly I haven’t made any good connections at that other site yet but I’m hoping this experience might help.


Sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing. I don’t read enough current books because there are so many older ones I haven’t gotten to yet. :smiley: But I may pick this one up when I get around to finishing the ones I’m reading. The description on GoodReads reminds me a little of The Snow Child which I read this year – just the idea of a mysterious child and elements that may or may not be magical.

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.