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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 Apr 22, 2008
ISBN: 9781439152676
List price: $9.99
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Passive tale of the way ones life goes when one never takes a risk.read more
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Was hoping this would be a good read, but disappointed. Just didn't find it remotely interesting - formulaic plot, clicheed characters etc. Beginning sounded like Rebecca, film sub-plot like Titanic. I kept reading which is why it got 2 * but not much to recommend it.read more
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Grace Bradley is 98 years old and living out her final days in a rest home, when she receives a letter from a film maker who requests her assistance in providing information about a family, a house, and the death of a poet. Grace goes back in time, mining long forgotten stories about the Hartford family, especially Hannah and Emmeline and David - the children who became young adults and carried their secrets to the grave. As a servant for the Hartfords, Grace's memories are those captured in shadowy corners and whispered intimacies - creating the gothic mood of the novel. Swirling with family secrets and mysteries and set amongst the privileged of English society at the turn of the century, Kate Morton's debut novel: The House At Riverton, is an enormously readable book...one that kept me compulsively turning the pages.I found Morton's novel to be similar to another gothic tale I loved: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. Both books are peopled by sisters (one named Emmeline) and an elderly woman who holds their secrets. The house itself, with its dark rooms and extensive gardens, becomes a character in its own right.Thematically, The House at Riverton explores the effect of war on relationships, the tenuous threads of memory, and family secrets. Morton's writing is captivating and her character development and dialog are spot on. She provides plenty of suspense and foreshadowing in her prose, and even though I figured out at least one of the mysteries early on, it did not ruin the book for me. The House at Riverton is a spellbinding, moody book which is perfect for winter reading next to a crackling fire and with a cup of tea at hand. I got my copy from Barnes and Noble's First Look Program. The novel is set for release in April 2008.Highly recommended; rated 4.5/5.read more
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Passive tale of the way ones life goes when one never takes a risk.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Was hoping this would be a good read, but disappointed. Just didn't find it remotely interesting - formulaic plot, clicheed characters etc. Beginning sounded like Rebecca, film sub-plot like Titanic. I kept reading which is why it got 2 * but not much to recommend it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Grace Bradley is 98 years old and living out her final days in a rest home, when she receives a letter from a film maker who requests her assistance in providing information about a family, a house, and the death of a poet. Grace goes back in time, mining long forgotten stories about the Hartford family, especially Hannah and Emmeline and David - the children who became young adults and carried their secrets to the grave. As a servant for the Hartfords, Grace's memories are those captured in shadowy corners and whispered intimacies - creating the gothic mood of the novel. Swirling with family secrets and mysteries and set amongst the privileged of English society at the turn of the century, Kate Morton's debut novel: The House At Riverton, is an enormously readable book...one that kept me compulsively turning the pages.I found Morton's novel to be similar to another gothic tale I loved: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. Both books are peopled by sisters (one named Emmeline) and an elderly woman who holds their secrets. The house itself, with its dark rooms and extensive gardens, becomes a character in its own right.Thematically, The House at Riverton explores the effect of war on relationships, the tenuous threads of memory, and family secrets. Morton's writing is captivating and her character development and dialog are spot on. She provides plenty of suspense and foreshadowing in her prose, and even though I figured out at least one of the mysteries early on, it did not ruin the book for me. The House at Riverton is a spellbinding, moody book which is perfect for winter reading next to a crackling fire and with a cup of tea at hand. I got my copy from Barnes and Noble's First Look Program. The novel is set for release in April 2008.Highly recommended; rated 4.5/5.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
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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.
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nicely written, but i had guessed the big secret early on the book, as most people would.
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