Book Review: The House at Riverton

May 14, 2015


The House at Riverton
Kate Morton
473 pages
Kindle edition

From the Publisher:
The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans ofDownton Abbey, 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.

After my read a thon weekend I took a little break from reading. (my husband would laugh at this, because it was only a couple days, he doesn’t think I ever stop reading). And honestly, sometimes, after finishing a book I really enjoy (The American Heiress) it’s hard for me to pick up another book and really love it. My head is still thinking about the previous characters.  I need a couple days between good books – my family needs me to have a couple days in between good books.  It’s good to come up for air every once in a while, right?

Am I the only one that needs time between a good book?  (Maybe this is why I switch back and forth between fiction/non-fiction it’s easy to go from book to book and still be thinking about the characters of a previous book?)

But then I get the bug to read again, and I need a really good one to get me going.  I read two books by Kate Morton last year, one was even on my top ten list.  So while I was browsing around deciding what to read, I thought a Kate Morton book would be a great way to go.

The House of Riverton was Morton’s first novel released.  It was easy to read and I was quickly drawn into the story. I love the flash backs and how Morton tells a story.  I had a hard time getting into her novel The Secret Keeper when I read it, but that was not the case with this book.  It’s a pretty thick book, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

There was a little bit of language in this book. (one f-word) (If you are sensitive to that.) And some adultery. (If you are sensitive to that.) And I think it was a bit predictable compared to the other two books I’ve read by Morton.  But I did enjoy it and I loved the characters and the development of their lives and stories.  I found myself not wanting to put it down through the last couple chapters, but not wanting it to end either.  

I love when I find a good book like that…unable to put it down, but not wanting the story to end either.

I still think that The Forgotten Garden is still my favorite book by Morton.  But this one isn’t bad either.  It’s her first book and I think each book after has gotten better and better.

There is one more book by Morton that I haven’t read yet and then she is releasing a new one in October.  I am looking forward to both of these books this year!

Final score:
(I’m taking off half a star because it was a bit predicable and had some language)  But overall pretty enjoyable.

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