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The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. It is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.

Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.

In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth.

In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.

The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

Originally published to critical acclaim in Australia, already sold in ten countries and a #1 bestseller in England, The House at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and passion, with characters -- and an ending -- the reader won't soon forget.

Topics: England, 1920s, 1910s, Suspenseful, Family, World War 1, Servants, Secrets, Gothic, Sisters, Love, Murder, Suicide, Aging, Coming of Age, Social Class, Love Story, Female Protagonist, 20th Century, Female Author, Australian Author, Debut, Dramatic, Wistful, and Nostalgic

Published: Atria Books on
ISBN: 9781439152676
List price: $13.99
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I ended up enjoying the story enough to almost give it four stars, but I didn't enjoy the narrator's voice enough for 16 discs to rate it above 3 stars.

I enjoyed this work of historical fiction, as told through Grace, a former housemaid at the house at Riverton. The reader gets glimpses of Grace's life after Riverton, and I would've enjoyed hearing more about that (and maybe less about the movie being made).

I'm glad I've finally moved this one off my to-read list and onto my read-in-2011 list. I wonder if they'll make it into a movie.more
What to day and which rating to give?
I did enjoy reading this book but did not like the little bits we got about Grace her life as it was now. As someone else mentioned, if she wanted to do that, give us more about how Grace transformed from a maid who loved to serve, to a very independent woman.

The story was told very slowly but this author has such an interesting way of telling it, I enjoyed it.
It felt annoying that both 2 main characters were very accepting of what happened to them in their lives. Not the right word, submissive is better. Like Hannah who lets Deborah rule her life, and Grace who chooses for Hannah to rule hers in a way.
3.5more
Was it just me, or do others feel a bit of Titanic nostalgia? I couldn't help but make the comparison throughout the story. Older woman, retelling stories of her youth in her final days??? Oh come on...say I'm not the only one!!!

Titanic aside, I was intrigued by the storyline at first, who wouldn't? There's a suicide witnessed by two society women? Secrets seem to be definitely in place...

However, the intrigue ultimately fell short for me. I found that I would have liked to have gotten deeper into the characters than Morton allowed. I saw so many of them as being interesting and complicated, but stopped short of a fantastic description. It wasn't that she was giving hints about an underlying tone, I just didn't connect with them. I can't put my finger on it exactly - the storyline just seemed a little disjointed for my liking.

It's more than a 3 rating in my book, but not high enough to rate it a 4. However, I am inclined to try other books by Morton based on other reviews of this book. Stay tuned!more
Finally finished! It was a long book, but a wonderful,sad story.more
This is a hefty book - in tone and in size. I had a hard time getting into it - I would say for a hundred pages I wondered if it would ever start moving and then at about page 200 it really took off. I really am not sure that it needs quite so much exposition in the beginning - but once it did build momentum I had a hard time putting it down.I will say that it is loaded with one of my pet peeves - constant foreshadowing. I think Grace (the main character/narrator) begins alluding to a giant revelation to come within the first few pages. She continues to hammer at it throughout the book. It is such a mantra that it became a real exercise in restraint for me not to just flip to the end to put her out of her darn misery. But.I am glad I didn't. I am glad that I didn't get so miffed at that device that I abandoned the book.It is a special book that is really evocative of the time (the memory sections feature life in the early 1900s.)I would recommend it but with the caveat that it does take a long long time to get going - but once it does - it was a really engaging read with a satisfying ending.more
There is no doubt that Kate Morton is an excellent story teller & The House at Riverton kept me turning the pages until its tragic end. However, the characters don't come fully to life & this is mainly due to the fact that Grace (the maid) acts a sypher for the 3 main characters: Hannah, Robbie & Emmeline (& too often by eavesdropping) in all but a small section of the book & this gives the story a voyeuristic quality in which the reader starts to crave another viewpoint. Also the idea that a maid in service with almost no formal education in the early 1900s could end up achieving a doctorate in archeology was really stretching things too far.more
Morton’s novels are always fun reads for me and this one didn’t disappoint. With shades of du Maurier’s Rebecca and the BBC’s Downton Abbey, the book was a wonderful mystery. We meet Grace at the end of her life. She is living out her days at a retirement home when she finds out a movie is being made about a dramatic event that happened in her youth. As a teenager Grace worked as a house maid at a large manor, Riverton, in the English countryside. A young poet committed suicide at the home one night and the mystery surrounding the evening has always left people wanting to know more. Grace decides it might be time to finally reveal the truth of what happened. Like all of Morton’s novels, this one has themes of mother/daughter relationships, long-kept secrets and the English countryside. Grace’s mother used to work at Riverton and we slowly learn bits of her history as well. After a few years at Riverton Grace becomes a lady’s maid for the Hartford sisters, Hannah and Emmeline. Their close relationship allows Grace to give us a wide-view of the happenings in the house. As the years pass and relationships become more complicated the story reminds us that one man’s happiness is another man’s prison. I thought the relationship between Hannah and Emmeline was one of the most fascinating elements of the story. The relationship between sisters is like no other. It tends to be fraught with both love and jealousy, creating a strange and precarious balance. Morton captured this perfectly, allowing us to understand and sympathize with both sisters throughout the novel. BOTTOM LINE: I really enjoyed it. The Forgotten Garden is my favorite of her’s so far, but I have a theory that your first Morton is always your favorite. This one was the perfect book to give me a Downton Abbey fix until I can watch the third season. “Reading is one of life’s great pleasures; talking about books keeps their worlds alive for longer.”“‘No. Not a mystery. Just a nice safe history.’ Ah my darling. But there is no such thing.” “…for home is a magnet that lures back even its most abstracted children.” “It is an uncanny feeling, that rare occasion when one catches a glimpse of oneself in repose. An unguarded moment, stripped of artifice, when one forgets to fool even oneself.”more
I now totally love Kate Morton! This book was just as amazing and haunting as The Forgotten Garden. Actually, I liked it even better. It reminded me of a mix between Downton Abbey and the new Upstairs, Downstairs. Everything is told from the maid's memory, but we hear the story of both the "family" and the servants. Kate Morton's books always make me think and open my mind up to different things. I loved the characters in this book and the story was very moving. Once again she goes from one time period to another, but it flowed seamlessly. I'm definitely going to have to add this book to my own library so I don't have to keep waiting on holds to get it from the public library. Here's one paragraph that made me think:"Impossible as it now seems, that day in the library was the first music I had ever heard. Real music, I mean. I had vague recollections of Mother singing to me when I was very little, before her back got sore and the songs dried up, and Mr. Connelly from across the street had used to take out his flute and play maudlin Irish tunes when he had drunk too much at the public house of a Friday night. But it had never been like this."Wow, there are people in the world who don't have access to music. Something I have taken for granted and loved my whole life. How would it be to remember the moment you first heard "real" music (which in this case was someone playing Chopin's waltz in C sharp minor on the piano)? I had several moments like that while reading this book. I can't wait to read The Distant Hours, and then wait impatiently for her next book to come out.more
Kate Morton weaves an atmospheric WW1 tale of the secrets of a former housemaid and the secrets of those who employed her, and the price paid for keeping those secrets. The story is told in flashback, as the woman is now old and close to dying. I love these glimpses into what life was like living in a very structured class system. I only wish that the narrator would have questioned certain circumstances and events that happened to her, and that she have been a little more assertive overall..............but then that would have been a completely different novel.This book follows a similar storyline to the BBC miniseries Downton Abbey (I saw the series before I read this novel). Characters in the novel will remind you of characters in the tv series. I read The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton's second book, prior to reading this. Ususally second books are weaker than the first, but I found The Forgotten Garden to be a much stronger book. Having said that, I did enjoy this book and I will definitely read more of Kate Morton's work in the future.more
Ninety-nine year old Grace is in a nursing home when she is visited by a young director who is making a film about a reported suicide that occurred in the summer of 1924 at a party at Riverton House. The visit sparks Grace's memories of that time. For years, Grace has kept a secret about what really happened the night of the party and the events that led up to the death.The story is told from Grace's perspective. At fourteen, Grace begins working as a servant for the Hartford family at Riverton House. She feels a kinship with the family's children; seventeen-year-old David, fourteen-year-old Hannah, and nine-year-old Emmeline. We follow the family as the children grow up and are forced to deal first with World War I and then the societal restrictions of 1920s Britain.As in Morton's second novel, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton focuses on family secrets and alliances, and how those secrets impact the choices and circumstances of both those who have knowledge of the secret and those who don't. The novel is also a fascinating exploration of the early twenty-first century British society and the relationship between the upper and working class.The book was engrossing. Although I found myself eager to learn the mystery at the heart of the book, the relationships between all of the characters intrigued me and I enjoyed the way in which Morton took time to explore them. There were a couple of male characters that I never completely understood and that I think could have been better drawn. Despite that flaw, I found the book riveting in its exploration of how secrets, those both known and unknown, inform an individual's sense of self.more
I found this book on a "if you like Downton Abbey, you'll like this" list, and I do, but I didn't, much. The setting was right, as was the upstairs-downstairs story line, but the tone was too somber and and the plot was just not that interesting.The book is narrated by Grace Bradley, a servant for the Hartford family of Riverton Manor. She is reminiscing in her old age about family secrets and heartbreaks that the reader can see coming a mile away and that have been done to death, anyway. Morton seems to be deliberately evoking a number of different novels, from Rebecca to The Remains of the Day, and that's fine, but she doesn't create anything fresh with her material. I like it less in retrospect than I did while reading it, because it was mildly diverting, but for all the ominous foreshadowing, it was ultimately a bland read.more
Another great book by Kate Morton. Her characters are sometimes hard to follow (you almost have to read these twice to really get the whole story), but the story really gets you hooked. I almost gave up in the middle waiting for something to happen, but the end was worth the wait.more
I have just finished this book and I loved it. Such a tragic love story that really pulled me in. I couldn't put it down towards the end. Would recommend!more
It was O.K. I enjoyed the first novel much more.more
This book had been sat forgotten about on my shelf for about four years and for some reason I only got around to reading it recently. Such a mistake! I really wish I'd picked it up a long time ago. After a somewhat slow beginning I persevered and then absolutely loved this book; I now can't wait to read more works from this author in future.Told via a dual time narrative, we meet Grace- initially in 1999 and convalescing in an old people's home. Grace reminisces on her time as a housemaid in the grand Riverton House at the start of the 20th Century, her memories brought about by a film that is to be made based upon the tragic events that once happened there. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Grace has some secrets of her own and knows more about these tragic events than anyone suspects...Despite the admittedly slow start to this book, once I got fully involved in reading about the characters and their lives, I felt that Riverton and the people there were really brought to life as the years rolled by. I loved Grace and I genuinely wanted to know more about her. Though some bits of the plot were a bit predictable it did not personally cause my enjoyment of this novel to detract in any way. I really loved the relationships portrayed, particularly that between Hannah and her sister Emmeline, as well as the impact that the arrival of Robbie Hunter had on the family dynamic. My favourite aspect to the story though was that conveyed of the social classes- I also enjoyed learning about the household staff and their duties and responsibilities and how they saw themselves at that period in history.At times poignant, sometimes funny but always eloquently written, this is not my usual sort of read at all but one that I am very glad I finally got around to giving a go.If you enjoy romances with a bit of history and intrigue in them then you will most likely find this a really engaging read. *This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk*more
90-yr-old Grace was once in service with the Hartford family at Riverton. Her life is deeply entwined with the family, especailly with the independent Hannah and her glittering, butterfly sister, Emmeline.Out of loyalty, Grace has kept the family's secrets, including the secret of what really happened on the fateful night that a poet died at Riverton.Now, many decades later, a film producer who is making a film about Riverton approaches Grace, which prompts her to reminisce about her days with the family. Riverton is now open to tourists, and the family has long since passed, but Grace saves the last, deeply held, dark secret until she nears the very end of her life.Morton is a wonderful storyteller. I was swooped up and carried away on the wings of this tale. Not that there weren't a few flaws. For instance, the denouement was signalled far to early and too obviously. The storytelling was so fabulous, though, who cares?I loved this book!more
I don't normally read historical fiction, but this one really grabbed me. While the beginning is a little bit slow, it is so beautifully written that you are compelled to keep reading. And it does become more engaging as it goes along. By the end I couldn't put it down. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but it came across as very authentic.more
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I didn't hate it I just didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I was introduced to Kate Morton's writing by her book The Forgotten Garden which I thought was fabulous. So when my book club decided to read this book, which is Morton's first, I was pleased. But it is not as good as The Forgotten Garden and so I am disappointed.Grace Bradley was a young girl (14) when she went to work as a maid at Riverton House. It was just before the First World War and being in service was a good career for a poor young girl. When Grace is 98 years old a filmmaker decides to set a film at Riverton in the summer of 1924. Grace starts to reminisce about her life and decides to record her story for her grandson, Marcus. We soon learn that a promising young poet was found dead during a party in 1924. The two Hartford sisters, Hannah and Emmeline, were the ones who found him and they were never the same. Grace is the only person left alive who knows what happened that night and what lead up to it.I liked the time period of the 1920s and I thought Morton did a good job evoking it. I wasn't so convinced by the setting of the modern story. The seniors' home that Grace is living in seemed far too nice, especially the fact that Grace seemed to get a lot of individual attention. And Grace seemed to be in good health one minute and then have one foot in the grave the next. The conclusion to the mystery about the poet's death took me by surprise but some of the other mysteries, like Grace's father, were very obvious. I also kept feeling like this story was very similar to Atonement by Ian MacEwan and I wonder if that book influenced Morton. She acknowledges many writers and books at the end but not Atonement but the parallel is obvious to me.Probably my feelings about this book would have been more positive if it was the first book by this author that I had read. Most of the deficits I have noted are probably due to it being a first book and I would have been more forgiving.more
Straightforward read, with some unsurprising secrets revealed in the course of the narrative. Irritating inconsistencies, like a back-to-back house (a building type found in mostly Northern inner city areas not rural Essex) with an internal passage through to a back yard. There are plenty of others.Mildly entertaining, but no great depth.more
A great debut novel. Not as good as The Forgotten Garden because it starts so slow and not much happens for most of the novel. The writing is good and it gets across the mood of the time very well. A few twists along the way - most you can see coming.more
The House at Riverton is the story of Grace Bradley, who was a maid at Riverton House beginning at age 14. Grace outlives everyone whom she lived with at Riverton and now at the age of 98, she sets down to tell her story. A movie is being made about the suicide of a young poet that happened at a party at Riverton in 1924 and this movie acts as a catalyst to get Grace to tell her story. Grace is the only person alive who knows what really happened that night and now as she nears death, she decides to leave behind her account. Reading The House at Riverton was an odd experience for me. Often, novels I read start with great promise but then fizzle out and leave me disappointed by the time I have finished. I had the opposite experience here. Initially, I thought this was a nice enough story told in a workmanlike manner. It wasn't great, but it was inoffensive. I still don't think it's a great novel, but it got better as the story progressed. As other reviewers have noted, it's a bit derivative of Ian McEwen's Atonement, but not distractingly so. It's not in Atonment's class as a novel, The House at Riverton lacks the artistry of Atonement, but it is a pleasant and thought-provoking novel. I think anyone who enjoyed Atonement would like The House at Riverton.more
I have been really into Kate Morton this summer and finally I have read the first of her books, The House on Riverton.While I definitely enjoyed following the Haverton sisters as they grow into adulthood with their faithful servant Grace at their side, I'd have to say that it is my least favorite of Morton's books.From start to finish it is riddled with secrets kept and secrets revealed. As Grace is facing her last days in a nursing home, she prepares her story on tapes that she will leave for her grandson, writer Marcus. Marcus will have all the secrets, even the very last one that has never been told until now.Kate Morton has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I look forward to more from her in the future. Start with The House on Riverton and read through to her current novel, The Distant Hours and you will be greatly pleased and entertained.more
It's strange to read all these praising reviews when I had to force myself to get as far as halfway of this novel. I guess there is an actual story somewhere in the book, but the writing and the structure and especially the narrator of choice hold it back. Grace is too weak and bleak a character to be a protagonist. She doesn't seem to have a story or even thoughts of her own, she just listens to other people have conversations.I was expecting an enchanting, compelling read. What I got was a struggle to get through - which I lost.more
pleasant writting similar to Binchey and Pilchermore
The beginning of this book reminded me of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, it also has family secrets, the relationships between staff & bosses, and a great country house. I just love Kate Morton’s writing it just begs to be read, so very beautiful and always a great story. This book jumps back and forth between the present and the past because a filmmaker is writing a movie about the unfortunate suicide of a poet at the House at Riverton Grace was a ladies maid at the home and is the only person still alive to tell the story. But does she tell the filmmaker the real story? And is the real story the one that was told so many years ago?There are a few secrets in this book and as they are revealed you may say, Aha I thought so, but the way this author tells a story will keep you captivated and entranced. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the characters of Grace & Hannah and the little snippets of reveals like who the filmmaker was made for a great story and a great book!If you are a fan of shows & books like Downton Abbey & Upstairs, Downstairs or historical fiction where a story about the past is being told from the perspective of the people who lived it, I think you will enjoy this book. 4 Starsmore
Tedious but interesting because the writer is talented enough for me to want to see how it ends.more
I'm still reading this book. Overall, I find it just as engrossing as Morton's The Forgotten Garden. Her writing is fantastic.more
I really wanted to like this book, but for me, it dragged quite a bit despite its beautiful writing and intriguing plot. Toward the middle I ended up being uninterested in its ending because of the way it dragged on.more
"The House at Riverton" takes place on a country estate in Essex, near London and is set in the early 1900‘s. As the story opens, Grace Bradley now 98 years old and a former housemaid in the estate has been asked to be part of a project by a filmmaker who is doing a story of the historical Riverton. Grace was only fourteen when she followed her mother into service in the great house as a housemaid. It was a has been a very difficult decision for Grace to assist in the film project because some of her memories were of horrible or painful times of friendship or love lost or set aside, and for her and her memories are not gentle. Also her health is precarious and there are times when the reliving and retelling are a drain on Grace.During that re-telling it is said that Robbie Hunter, a young poet committed suicide and the truth of what happens is not known. Only Grace and the “two sisters” know the truth and it has weighed heavily on Grace during the years. The novel travels back and forth in time as do many of this type, however, it was easy for me to follow than keep the present and past very separate. This added depth to the character Grace and a good context for the telling of the story.This book emits the same historical fiction feeling as “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield and “The Turn of the Screw,” both of which I enjoyed. I also loved Morton’s” The Forgotten Garden.” Both are very good reads and I recommend them both.more
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Reviews

I ended up enjoying the story enough to almost give it four stars, but I didn't enjoy the narrator's voice enough for 16 discs to rate it above 3 stars.

I enjoyed this work of historical fiction, as told through Grace, a former housemaid at the house at Riverton. The reader gets glimpses of Grace's life after Riverton, and I would've enjoyed hearing more about that (and maybe less about the movie being made).

I'm glad I've finally moved this one off my to-read list and onto my read-in-2011 list. I wonder if they'll make it into a movie.more
What to day and which rating to give?
I did enjoy reading this book but did not like the little bits we got about Grace her life as it was now. As someone else mentioned, if she wanted to do that, give us more about how Grace transformed from a maid who loved to serve, to a very independent woman.

The story was told very slowly but this author has such an interesting way of telling it, I enjoyed it.
It felt annoying that both 2 main characters were very accepting of what happened to them in their lives. Not the right word, submissive is better. Like Hannah who lets Deborah rule her life, and Grace who chooses for Hannah to rule hers in a way.
3.5more
Was it just me, or do others feel a bit of Titanic nostalgia? I couldn't help but make the comparison throughout the story. Older woman, retelling stories of her youth in her final days??? Oh come on...say I'm not the only one!!!

Titanic aside, I was intrigued by the storyline at first, who wouldn't? There's a suicide witnessed by two society women? Secrets seem to be definitely in place...

However, the intrigue ultimately fell short for me. I found that I would have liked to have gotten deeper into the characters than Morton allowed. I saw so many of them as being interesting and complicated, but stopped short of a fantastic description. It wasn't that she was giving hints about an underlying tone, I just didn't connect with them. I can't put my finger on it exactly - the storyline just seemed a little disjointed for my liking.

It's more than a 3 rating in my book, but not high enough to rate it a 4. However, I am inclined to try other books by Morton based on other reviews of this book. Stay tuned!more
Finally finished! It was a long book, but a wonderful,sad story.more
This is a hefty book - in tone and in size. I had a hard time getting into it - I would say for a hundred pages I wondered if it would ever start moving and then at about page 200 it really took off. I really am not sure that it needs quite so much exposition in the beginning - but once it did build momentum I had a hard time putting it down.I will say that it is loaded with one of my pet peeves - constant foreshadowing. I think Grace (the main character/narrator) begins alluding to a giant revelation to come within the first few pages. She continues to hammer at it throughout the book. It is such a mantra that it became a real exercise in restraint for me not to just flip to the end to put her out of her darn misery. But.I am glad I didn't. I am glad that I didn't get so miffed at that device that I abandoned the book.It is a special book that is really evocative of the time (the memory sections feature life in the early 1900s.)I would recommend it but with the caveat that it does take a long long time to get going - but once it does - it was a really engaging read with a satisfying ending.more
There is no doubt that Kate Morton is an excellent story teller & The House at Riverton kept me turning the pages until its tragic end. However, the characters don't come fully to life & this is mainly due to the fact that Grace (the maid) acts a sypher for the 3 main characters: Hannah, Robbie & Emmeline (& too often by eavesdropping) in all but a small section of the book & this gives the story a voyeuristic quality in which the reader starts to crave another viewpoint. Also the idea that a maid in service with almost no formal education in the early 1900s could end up achieving a doctorate in archeology was really stretching things too far.more
Morton’s novels are always fun reads for me and this one didn’t disappoint. With shades of du Maurier’s Rebecca and the BBC’s Downton Abbey, the book was a wonderful mystery. We meet Grace at the end of her life. She is living out her days at a retirement home when she finds out a movie is being made about a dramatic event that happened in her youth. As a teenager Grace worked as a house maid at a large manor, Riverton, in the English countryside. A young poet committed suicide at the home one night and the mystery surrounding the evening has always left people wanting to know more. Grace decides it might be time to finally reveal the truth of what happened. Like all of Morton’s novels, this one has themes of mother/daughter relationships, long-kept secrets and the English countryside. Grace’s mother used to work at Riverton and we slowly learn bits of her history as well. After a few years at Riverton Grace becomes a lady’s maid for the Hartford sisters, Hannah and Emmeline. Their close relationship allows Grace to give us a wide-view of the happenings in the house. As the years pass and relationships become more complicated the story reminds us that one man’s happiness is another man’s prison. I thought the relationship between Hannah and Emmeline was one of the most fascinating elements of the story. The relationship between sisters is like no other. It tends to be fraught with both love and jealousy, creating a strange and precarious balance. Morton captured this perfectly, allowing us to understand and sympathize with both sisters throughout the novel. BOTTOM LINE: I really enjoyed it. The Forgotten Garden is my favorite of her’s so far, but I have a theory that your first Morton is always your favorite. This one was the perfect book to give me a Downton Abbey fix until I can watch the third season. “Reading is one of life’s great pleasures; talking about books keeps their worlds alive for longer.”“‘No. Not a mystery. Just a nice safe history.’ Ah my darling. But there is no such thing.” “…for home is a magnet that lures back even its most abstracted children.” “It is an uncanny feeling, that rare occasion when one catches a glimpse of oneself in repose. An unguarded moment, stripped of artifice, when one forgets to fool even oneself.”more
I now totally love Kate Morton! This book was just as amazing and haunting as The Forgotten Garden. Actually, I liked it even better. It reminded me of a mix between Downton Abbey and the new Upstairs, Downstairs. Everything is told from the maid's memory, but we hear the story of both the "family" and the servants. Kate Morton's books always make me think and open my mind up to different things. I loved the characters in this book and the story was very moving. Once again she goes from one time period to another, but it flowed seamlessly. I'm definitely going to have to add this book to my own library so I don't have to keep waiting on holds to get it from the public library. Here's one paragraph that made me think:"Impossible as it now seems, that day in the library was the first music I had ever heard. Real music, I mean. I had vague recollections of Mother singing to me when I was very little, before her back got sore and the songs dried up, and Mr. Connelly from across the street had used to take out his flute and play maudlin Irish tunes when he had drunk too much at the public house of a Friday night. But it had never been like this."Wow, there are people in the world who don't have access to music. Something I have taken for granted and loved my whole life. How would it be to remember the moment you first heard "real" music (which in this case was someone playing Chopin's waltz in C sharp minor on the piano)? I had several moments like that while reading this book. I can't wait to read The Distant Hours, and then wait impatiently for her next book to come out.more
Kate Morton weaves an atmospheric WW1 tale of the secrets of a former housemaid and the secrets of those who employed her, and the price paid for keeping those secrets. The story is told in flashback, as the woman is now old and close to dying. I love these glimpses into what life was like living in a very structured class system. I only wish that the narrator would have questioned certain circumstances and events that happened to her, and that she have been a little more assertive overall..............but then that would have been a completely different novel.This book follows a similar storyline to the BBC miniseries Downton Abbey (I saw the series before I read this novel). Characters in the novel will remind you of characters in the tv series. I read The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton's second book, prior to reading this. Ususally second books are weaker than the first, but I found The Forgotten Garden to be a much stronger book. Having said that, I did enjoy this book and I will definitely read more of Kate Morton's work in the future.more
Ninety-nine year old Grace is in a nursing home when she is visited by a young director who is making a film about a reported suicide that occurred in the summer of 1924 at a party at Riverton House. The visit sparks Grace's memories of that time. For years, Grace has kept a secret about what really happened the night of the party and the events that led up to the death.The story is told from Grace's perspective. At fourteen, Grace begins working as a servant for the Hartford family at Riverton House. She feels a kinship with the family's children; seventeen-year-old David, fourteen-year-old Hannah, and nine-year-old Emmeline. We follow the family as the children grow up and are forced to deal first with World War I and then the societal restrictions of 1920s Britain.As in Morton's second novel, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton focuses on family secrets and alliances, and how those secrets impact the choices and circumstances of both those who have knowledge of the secret and those who don't. The novel is also a fascinating exploration of the early twenty-first century British society and the relationship between the upper and working class.The book was engrossing. Although I found myself eager to learn the mystery at the heart of the book, the relationships between all of the characters intrigued me and I enjoyed the way in which Morton took time to explore them. There were a couple of male characters that I never completely understood and that I think could have been better drawn. Despite that flaw, I found the book riveting in its exploration of how secrets, those both known and unknown, inform an individual's sense of self.more
I found this book on a "if you like Downton Abbey, you'll like this" list, and I do, but I didn't, much. The setting was right, as was the upstairs-downstairs story line, but the tone was too somber and and the plot was just not that interesting.The book is narrated by Grace Bradley, a servant for the Hartford family of Riverton Manor. She is reminiscing in her old age about family secrets and heartbreaks that the reader can see coming a mile away and that have been done to death, anyway. Morton seems to be deliberately evoking a number of different novels, from Rebecca to The Remains of the Day, and that's fine, but she doesn't create anything fresh with her material. I like it less in retrospect than I did while reading it, because it was mildly diverting, but for all the ominous foreshadowing, it was ultimately a bland read.more
Another great book by Kate Morton. Her characters are sometimes hard to follow (you almost have to read these twice to really get the whole story), but the story really gets you hooked. I almost gave up in the middle waiting for something to happen, but the end was worth the wait.more
I have just finished this book and I loved it. Such a tragic love story that really pulled me in. I couldn't put it down towards the end. Would recommend!more
It was O.K. I enjoyed the first novel much more.more
This book had been sat forgotten about on my shelf for about four years and for some reason I only got around to reading it recently. Such a mistake! I really wish I'd picked it up a long time ago. After a somewhat slow beginning I persevered and then absolutely loved this book; I now can't wait to read more works from this author in future.Told via a dual time narrative, we meet Grace- initially in 1999 and convalescing in an old people's home. Grace reminisces on her time as a housemaid in the grand Riverton House at the start of the 20th Century, her memories brought about by a film that is to be made based upon the tragic events that once happened there. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Grace has some secrets of her own and knows more about these tragic events than anyone suspects...Despite the admittedly slow start to this book, once I got fully involved in reading about the characters and their lives, I felt that Riverton and the people there were really brought to life as the years rolled by. I loved Grace and I genuinely wanted to know more about her. Though some bits of the plot were a bit predictable it did not personally cause my enjoyment of this novel to detract in any way. I really loved the relationships portrayed, particularly that between Hannah and her sister Emmeline, as well as the impact that the arrival of Robbie Hunter had on the family dynamic. My favourite aspect to the story though was that conveyed of the social classes- I also enjoyed learning about the household staff and their duties and responsibilities and how they saw themselves at that period in history.At times poignant, sometimes funny but always eloquently written, this is not my usual sort of read at all but one that I am very glad I finally got around to giving a go.If you enjoy romances with a bit of history and intrigue in them then you will most likely find this a really engaging read. *This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk*more
90-yr-old Grace was once in service with the Hartford family at Riverton. Her life is deeply entwined with the family, especailly with the independent Hannah and her glittering, butterfly sister, Emmeline.Out of loyalty, Grace has kept the family's secrets, including the secret of what really happened on the fateful night that a poet died at Riverton.Now, many decades later, a film producer who is making a film about Riverton approaches Grace, which prompts her to reminisce about her days with the family. Riverton is now open to tourists, and the family has long since passed, but Grace saves the last, deeply held, dark secret until she nears the very end of her life.Morton is a wonderful storyteller. I was swooped up and carried away on the wings of this tale. Not that there weren't a few flaws. For instance, the denouement was signalled far to early and too obviously. The storytelling was so fabulous, though, who cares?I loved this book!more
I don't normally read historical fiction, but this one really grabbed me. While the beginning is a little bit slow, it is so beautifully written that you are compelled to keep reading. And it does become more engaging as it goes along. By the end I couldn't put it down. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but it came across as very authentic.more
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I didn't hate it I just didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I was introduced to Kate Morton's writing by her book The Forgotten Garden which I thought was fabulous. So when my book club decided to read this book, which is Morton's first, I was pleased. But it is not as good as The Forgotten Garden and so I am disappointed.Grace Bradley was a young girl (14) when she went to work as a maid at Riverton House. It was just before the First World War and being in service was a good career for a poor young girl. When Grace is 98 years old a filmmaker decides to set a film at Riverton in the summer of 1924. Grace starts to reminisce about her life and decides to record her story for her grandson, Marcus. We soon learn that a promising young poet was found dead during a party in 1924. The two Hartford sisters, Hannah and Emmeline, were the ones who found him and they were never the same. Grace is the only person left alive who knows what happened that night and what lead up to it.I liked the time period of the 1920s and I thought Morton did a good job evoking it. I wasn't so convinced by the setting of the modern story. The seniors' home that Grace is living in seemed far too nice, especially the fact that Grace seemed to get a lot of individual attention. And Grace seemed to be in good health one minute and then have one foot in the grave the next. The conclusion to the mystery about the poet's death took me by surprise but some of the other mysteries, like Grace's father, were very obvious. I also kept feeling like this story was very similar to Atonement by Ian MacEwan and I wonder if that book influenced Morton. She acknowledges many writers and books at the end but not Atonement but the parallel is obvious to me.Probably my feelings about this book would have been more positive if it was the first book by this author that I had read. Most of the deficits I have noted are probably due to it being a first book and I would have been more forgiving.more
Straightforward read, with some unsurprising secrets revealed in the course of the narrative. Irritating inconsistencies, like a back-to-back house (a building type found in mostly Northern inner city areas not rural Essex) with an internal passage through to a back yard. There are plenty of others.Mildly entertaining, but no great depth.more
A great debut novel. Not as good as The Forgotten Garden because it starts so slow and not much happens for most of the novel. The writing is good and it gets across the mood of the time very well. A few twists along the way - most you can see coming.more
The House at Riverton is the story of Grace Bradley, who was a maid at Riverton House beginning at age 14. Grace outlives everyone whom she lived with at Riverton and now at the age of 98, she sets down to tell her story. A movie is being made about the suicide of a young poet that happened at a party at Riverton in 1924 and this movie acts as a catalyst to get Grace to tell her story. Grace is the only person alive who knows what really happened that night and now as she nears death, she decides to leave behind her account. Reading The House at Riverton was an odd experience for me. Often, novels I read start with great promise but then fizzle out and leave me disappointed by the time I have finished. I had the opposite experience here. Initially, I thought this was a nice enough story told in a workmanlike manner. It wasn't great, but it was inoffensive. I still don't think it's a great novel, but it got better as the story progressed. As other reviewers have noted, it's a bit derivative of Ian McEwen's Atonement, but not distractingly so. It's not in Atonment's class as a novel, The House at Riverton lacks the artistry of Atonement, but it is a pleasant and thought-provoking novel. I think anyone who enjoyed Atonement would like The House at Riverton.more
I have been really into Kate Morton this summer and finally I have read the first of her books, The House on Riverton.While I definitely enjoyed following the Haverton sisters as they grow into adulthood with their faithful servant Grace at their side, I'd have to say that it is my least favorite of Morton's books.From start to finish it is riddled with secrets kept and secrets revealed. As Grace is facing her last days in a nursing home, she prepares her story on tapes that she will leave for her grandson, writer Marcus. Marcus will have all the secrets, even the very last one that has never been told until now.Kate Morton has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I look forward to more from her in the future. Start with The House on Riverton and read through to her current novel, The Distant Hours and you will be greatly pleased and entertained.more
It's strange to read all these praising reviews when I had to force myself to get as far as halfway of this novel. I guess there is an actual story somewhere in the book, but the writing and the structure and especially the narrator of choice hold it back. Grace is too weak and bleak a character to be a protagonist. She doesn't seem to have a story or even thoughts of her own, she just listens to other people have conversations.I was expecting an enchanting, compelling read. What I got was a struggle to get through - which I lost.more
pleasant writting similar to Binchey and Pilchermore
The beginning of this book reminded me of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, it also has family secrets, the relationships between staff & bosses, and a great country house. I just love Kate Morton’s writing it just begs to be read, so very beautiful and always a great story. This book jumps back and forth between the present and the past because a filmmaker is writing a movie about the unfortunate suicide of a poet at the House at Riverton Grace was a ladies maid at the home and is the only person still alive to tell the story. But does she tell the filmmaker the real story? And is the real story the one that was told so many years ago?There are a few secrets in this book and as they are revealed you may say, Aha I thought so, but the way this author tells a story will keep you captivated and entranced. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the characters of Grace & Hannah and the little snippets of reveals like who the filmmaker was made for a great story and a great book!If you are a fan of shows & books like Downton Abbey & Upstairs, Downstairs or historical fiction where a story about the past is being told from the perspective of the people who lived it, I think you will enjoy this book. 4 Starsmore
Tedious but interesting because the writer is talented enough for me to want to see how it ends.more
I'm still reading this book. Overall, I find it just as engrossing as Morton's The Forgotten Garden. Her writing is fantastic.more
I really wanted to like this book, but for me, it dragged quite a bit despite its beautiful writing and intriguing plot. Toward the middle I ended up being uninterested in its ending because of the way it dragged on.more
"The House at Riverton" takes place on a country estate in Essex, near London and is set in the early 1900‘s. As the story opens, Grace Bradley now 98 years old and a former housemaid in the estate has been asked to be part of a project by a filmmaker who is doing a story of the historical Riverton. Grace was only fourteen when she followed her mother into service in the great house as a housemaid. It was a has been a very difficult decision for Grace to assist in the film project because some of her memories were of horrible or painful times of friendship or love lost or set aside, and for her and her memories are not gentle. Also her health is precarious and there are times when the reliving and retelling are a drain on Grace.During that re-telling it is said that Robbie Hunter, a young poet committed suicide and the truth of what happens is not known. Only Grace and the “two sisters” know the truth and it has weighed heavily on Grace during the years. The novel travels back and forth in time as do many of this type, however, it was easy for me to follow than keep the present and past very separate. This added depth to the character Grace and a good context for the telling of the story.This book emits the same historical fiction feeling as “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield and “The Turn of the Screw,” both of which I enjoyed. I also loved Morton’s” The Forgotten Garden.” Both are very good reads and I recommend them both.more
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