Robyn (Atlanta GA)
Fine example of a fun genre
The first sentence of this book lets you know where the author is going: it is a clear echo of the famous first sentence of Du Maurier's Rebecca: "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again.." That first sentence tells you what you need to know; this book draws on what Daphne DuMaurier did first and best -- the gothic mystery, with the somewhat secretive narrator, and the stories that take place under the surface. I read another review compare it to The Thirteenth Tale, and I'd agree with that comparison. Like The Thirteenth Tale, it has a great setup, and it moves forward well -- but I spent most of the book waiting for it to kick into fifth gear, and it never quite there. The author has a great sense of place and time, and a great ability to build up intrigue; but it never quite pays off in the way that a lasting classic would. That said, it was well worth the read, especially for people (and there are lots of us) who are fans of the genre.
Melissa (Frisco TX)
A story that will stay with you for a long time
The House at Riverton opens with 99 year old Grace Bradley agreeing to meet with a filmmaker who is making a movie about Riverton, the house that Grace was in service with during the First World War, and the suicide of a prominent poet during the summer of 1924. Feeling her life coming to a slow end, Grace begins recording her memories of Riverton for her grandson, so the true story of Robbie Hunter's suicide will finally be told.
It is easy to see why The House at Riverton was a number one bestseller in England. A compelling story rich in historical detail, from the end of the Victorian era, through the challenges of the Great War, to the beginning of the 1920's, when England's class system began to erode, you will be hard pressed to put this book down. Even when you do come to the shattering conclusion, Riverton and Grace Bradley will linger in your memory.
Kristen (Baltimore MD)
Flawed, but evocative, beautiful and worth reading
The House at Riverton was evocatively written, and successfully captures the spirit of an age through the eyes of a woman in who, in her final days, relives them. The author creates vivid characters and tells a compelling story. Several compelling stories, actually: there is the story of Grace and her relationship with the daughters of the house; the story of Grace and her family; the story of the daughters of the house; all threaded around the larger theme of the changing British society in the aftermath of World War I. The author indulges in a frustrating habit of inserting unnecessary teasers of what the reader knows from the beginning is a tragic end, but this is a minor irritant in what is otherwise beautifully written. If there is a fundamental flaw to the story, it is that the author tries to accomplish too much, and makes a simple story more complicated than it needs to be through the addition of an unnecessary plot device. It may not have the timelessness of similar stories, such as Remains of the Day or Gosford Park, but it is a uniformly lovely read with occasional flashes of breathless beauty, and is more than definitely worth the time.
Elizabeth (Des Moines IA)
Secrets from the past
Kate Morton shows her love for the traditional Gothic novel in the book about an old woman finally sharing her deepest secrets. Her beautiful writing captures the reader quickly, and the mysteries revealed as the novel progresses keep the narrative moving to its inevitable conclusion. I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to more by this author.
Margo (Cedar Falls IA)
The House at Riverton
The House of Riverton is both historical novel and mystery. Just before the first World War Grace Bradley joins the staff at Riverton House at the age of 14. In many ways, this book reminded me of the Masterpiece Theater production, Upstairs, Downstairs. Perhaps this is why I initially found the characters somewhat one-dimensional and stereotypical. They were too interchangeable with the cast of the TV program. However, I quickly became caught up in the lives of Grace and Hannah, the family daughter for whom she is lady's maid and confidant.
The author is best at recreating the world of wartime, and the changing class system and life of the early 1900's. Since the title of the book is The House at Riverton, it is probably natural that Grace's life after she leaves service is not so well documented. It is a tribute to the author that I wanted to know more--a sequel perhaps?
The way some of the characters' lives are shown to be connected seemed a bit too tidy but that is a minor negative. On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book and would definitely recommend it.
Elsbeth (Medford WI)
A Captivating Book
The House At Riverton is a fabulous novel!
The author skillfully brings her readers into the house, upstairs with the aristocratic family and downstairs with the household servant staff.
As I read this book, I felt I was right there, sharing the lives and secrets of the characters in the story. I enjoyed going back in history, to the mid-1920's via Grace's memories. The suspense at the end of the novel was great.
It was difficult to put this book down. I will eagerly wait for Kate Morton's second novel.
SuziQ (Portland OR)
The House at Riverton
This book is somewhat reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale. It’s told in flashback by an elderly woman, sisters (one named Emmeline) are part of the story, the setting is in an old family house, and many secrets are gradually revealed. That said, it’s also very different from The Thirteenth Tale. Yes, it’s a story about a family and their servants, but it’s so much more. It’s a story of the time. England during and after World War I was a country and society in the midst of change. The concept of “Duty” is a theme throughout the book – The household staff and their duty to the family they work for, the duty to family and country that crossed all class levels. The impact of the war on the families who lost sons and fathers as well as the survivors who came home forever altered by their wartime experiences is as much a part of this book as the primary story.