Friday, October 1, 2010

125 - The House at Riverton; Kate Morton















Grace Bradley has kept a secret for over 75 years, one that she hoped to take to her grave.  However, in 1999 when Grace is 98 years old and living her remaining time in a nursing home, all that changes.

An American film director named Ursula is making a movie about Riverton House, the place Grace began working as a housemaid, like her mother before her, just before the First World War. Ursula's interest is to find out more about an incident that occurred in 1924, when a poet, who was a guest there, committed suicide at the lake.  Grace is the only person alive who was there on that fateful night.

The story moves from past to present as Grace recalls her duties serving the aristocratic Hartford family, and their three children David, Hannah and Emmeline. It is the daughters that are key in this story. Grace is especially close to Hannah, who was the same age as Grace, but she never forgets her role --to serve the family.  Although the sisters were present on that night, they never spoke of the incident. Grace has been haunted by the incident ever since.  Bit by bit the full story is revealed through Grace as she relives the past.

The House at Riverton is a haunting story with a Gothic feel. The story is multi-layered and the characters multi-dimensional. Descriptive and atmospheric, the story felt almost like a confession of sorts by the narrator. Told in a series of flashbacks, Grace unburdens herself of the secrets of the past, leaving no stone  left unturned.

I liked this book, but did not love it. It really is a terrific debut novel, but I think from all the discussion and gushing reviews over the last two years, I was expecting to be wowed, and that did not happen.  Some of what was revealed seemed a bit predictable, so for me that pushed it down a peg. Despite this, The House at Riverton is still a worthwhile read that should appeal to readers who enjoy historical novels and Gothic suspense.
RATING - 4/5 stars
(personal copy and library audio book)



35 comments:

  1. I have been debating weather or not to pick this book up for a while now. Thanks for your review! I think you just helped me decide :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for an honest review.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really enjoyed this book, but I read this just when it had first come out. The haunting Gothic piece was what kept me stuck in it, and i had just come off of reading The Thirteenth Tale so it worked for me at that time!

    I can see, though, why you liked it, but didn't love it -- there were parts that for me were a tad unnecessary or long-winded.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really enjoy Kate Morton's books. This one was called The Shifting Fog in Australia...but I think I prefer the title The House at Riverton! Looking forward to her new one The Distant Hours!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have had this book on my to read mountain(s), I guess I need to move it up on the pile! Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I LOVED this book, I can't wait to read Morton's other novels!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I keep seeing this book in 2nd hand shops all over the place but I really must actually buy it one of these days. Good review

    ReplyDelete
  8. This book left me devastated. Immediately after finishing it, I re-read it - as if by doing so the ending would change. Fool! I cannot wait to read her next book.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This one does sound intriguing...I do love books about secrets and revelations about the past.

    Love the cover, too.

    Your review moved me slightly off the fence toward reading this one.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have "The Forgotten Garden" in my TBR pile and am excited to read it. I think that I'll give "The House at Riverton" a miss, though. Thanks for the honest review!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on it. I like the fact that you said it had that Gothic feel to it, which I really enjoy, but at least now I'll keep my excitement in check. That's really a problem when a book gets so much praise even before it is released.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've got Morton's newest book and I can't wait to read it. I'm guessing she's an author who's gotten better as the years have passed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. One hundred and twenty-five books! And you have a job and a husband. I am stunned. I know I've said it before, but wow! I started this book years ago and just couldn't get interested. It had elements I usually love, but somehow I didn't care. Maybe because of the 'gothic' feel. I don't like gothic, ever.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Diane, this sounds like a good choice for RIP V. Have a wonderful weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I didn't realize this was her first novel. I heard such good stuff about her other one (The Secret Garden) that I requested that from Paperback Swap. (Still haven't gotten to it.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. This one has been on my wish list for awhile. Sometimes I give first novels an easier time, meaning I try to lower my expectations. Sounds like that could work with this one :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I really enjoyed this book as well and am looking forward to reading her other two books. Glad to hear you enjoyed it even if you didn't love it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have this one on my tbr list. I plan to read Kate Morton in October. I've been hearing amazing things about her.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I gave this book 4/5 too, when I rated it on goodreads, and the ending was what did it for me!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think I am partial to the whole gothicky feel that is prevalent in Morton's books, as well as other authors.

    I am really looking forward to her next book which should be out very soon!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm really into gothic feeling books right now so this one sounds like a winner for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Great review. Thanks for introducing us to this novel! I love mysteries and a good story. my Sunday Salon

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've been dying to read this one -- thanks for your review.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm so jealous you got to read this. I've had it forever! Glad you enjoyed it.
    Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

    ReplyDelete
  25. I bought this book from a charity shop a few months ago but have yet to read it. Having read your review, I certainly will read it, but it will probably have to be next year now.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This sounds like a book I'd like.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hmmm, I've heard such great things about this author! I started reading The Forgotten Garden but had to return it to the library... that one was really good up to the point I read. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  28. I kept hearing about Kate Morton and they're all good things. I hope to venture into reading her books one day. Thanks for the review, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I read it as a review copy many years ago and knew nothing about it. I was sent it because I loved The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield so much.
    Good points but I can say, i loved it!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I haven't read a Gothic read in ages, so this one really piques my curiosity. It's too bad that you weren't crazy about it, and that things were a bit predictable. I am going to have to think about this one. Not sure yet!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I really enjoyed this book, but it was a couple of years ago that I read it, so I could be looking at it through rose tinted glasses now.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I think this sounds like a captivating story and I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a little disappointing whn we think a book is going to be better than it turns out to be.

    I have this book on my tbr list and I want to and will read it. But my concern is that I won't appreciate the book as much because I expect a lot of it right now since it's been reviewed a lot, raved about, gushed over, talked up etc. I thought I would wait a while and read it when I've forgotten all of the hulabaloo! Thanks for your review, Diane, you helped me decide to wait a little while to read this book.

    ~ Amy

    ReplyDelete
  33. I felt the same way -- liked but not loved. I'm looking forward to reading her second book though. I could definitely see the potential in her storytelling and writing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I agree with you. This wasn't a great book, but I really enjoyed the reading of it! I've got Forgotten Garden hanging out here to read some time soon.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I haven't read a Gothic one for a bit as well. I'll put it on my shelf for further thinking. Love the colors on the cover!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)