Book Review – “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton

houseatriverton  Title:  The House at Riverton

Author:  Kate Morton

Synopsis (from bn.com):

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of Downton 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.

My thoughts:  Well my book club hit it out of the park again on this selection.  My book club chose this book for our November book and believe me I was very skeptical.  I am one that really does not enjoy British fiction at all, in fact I usually try to avoid it.  I just don’t connect with it and find it difficult to read.  Well, as this book was rather lengthy and I knew it was British I started it early, thinking I would have a difficult time finishing it in time for book club.  Boy, was I wrong.  I literally couldn’t put it down.  I couldn’t wait to get off of work so I could get back to it.  I wanted to read in the car at stoplights it was that intriguing to me (by the way I didn’t, but I really, really wanted to 🙂 )

I won’t rehash the actual premise and plot of the book as you can get that from the synopsis above, but it was indeed a delightful read.

The characters were intriguing, charming, mysterious, . . . and best of all . . . you wanted to know more throughout the entire book.  Somehow the writing style and pace of the book, left me wanting to know more, and more, and more with each page I read.  I kept asking myself, “Yes, but what about that?”, “Ok, but when does this happen?”, “Ok, but what if . . .?”

The author really keeps the intrigue and leaves the reader hanging all the way to the very end.  Loved it!

Note to the reader:  Don’t look at the book discussion questions at the back of the book until after you finish.   I made the mistake of perusing casually through them and ruined one of the good plot twists for myself, that would have been much better had I not known!  So do yourself a favor and don’t look!!!

This is a wonderful book addressing the themes of family secrets, war, changes, a fall of a family, profound differences in social status, hope, resilience, coming to peace with ourselves . . . and so much more!

Do yourself a favor and give this book a read!  I’m certainly glad I did and I already have another one of Kate Morton’s books on the way.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

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