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.
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)