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
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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
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.
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