The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton

Book rating: 05 Paperback Pan Books

By (author) Kate Morton

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  • Publisher: Pan Books
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 194mm x 38mm | 400g
  • Publication date: 1 July 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0330448447
  • ISBN 13: 9780330448444
  • Sales rank: 2,506

Product description

Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again. Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken and memories, long-consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could. A thrilling mystery and a compelling love story, "The House at Riverton" will appeal to readers of Ian McEwan's "Atonement", L.P. Hartley's "The Go-Between", and lovers of the film "Gosford Park".

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Author information

Kate Morton was born in 1976 and grew up in the mountains of South East Queensland, Australia. She has degrees in Dramatic Art and English Literature, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and young son in a hundred-year-old house in Brisbane. The House at Riverton is her first novel.

Customer reviews

By Jennifer King 31 Dec 2011 5

A story of love and mystery and the secrets held over time, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON captivated me with its lush twists and tucks in the story. Told in 1999 by Grace Bradley, one-time housemaid at the Riverton Estate in England, the story she tells is of the family she cared for, of sisters Hannah and Emmeline, and of the vast and sweeping secrets she helped them to keep. With full-bodied characters flawed over time and hardships, the sweeping story Grace tells leads the reader to a highly impactful ending.

Kate Morton's beautiful style of telling the story is enchanting, and keeps the reader turning pages ever more urgently as the novel draws to a close. I appreciated Ms. Morton's adept telling of the story through the eyes of Grace, and of the complex world she reflects upon from her youth.

It is important not to flip to the end and spoil the story ... I was blown away by the ending, yet it all made perfect sense.

A brilliant, luminous read, highly recommended for readers who enjoy literary mystery woven with a impactful love story, with historical and contemporary elements. One of my all-time favorite novels.

Editorial reviews

In Australian author Morton's atmospheric first novel, a 98-year-old woman recollects her unwitting role in a fatal deception.Grace, a prominent former archeologist, is living out her waning years in a British nursing home, when an American filmmaker, Ursula, asks her to consult on a movie about the scandalous 1924 suicide of a poet during a lavish soiree at Riverton, a country estate where Grace once served as parlor maid to the Hartford family. Extended flashbacks excavate the mysteries that surround Grace almost from the first. Why did Grace's mother, herself a servant at Riverton before leaving under a cloud, send her 14-year-old daughter to work there? Who is Grace's father? The domestic servant is a convenient expository device: Grace can eavesdrop on every Hartford family crisis. Hannah, her sister Emmeline and brother David occasionally visit Riverton, owned by their uncle, Lord Ashbury. Their father, Frederick, the second son, is an automobile pioneer. But World War I upends the destinies of the Hartford clan. David, his schoolmate Robbie and Grace's heartthrob, Alfred, a footman, all go to fight. David is killed, Robbie drops out of sight and Alfred suffers shell shock. The war also claims the lives of Lord Ashbury and his eldest son, and Frederick inherits the title. Frederick's business is mortgaged to American bankers, the Luxtons, who force a sale of his factory. To Frederick's chagrin, Hannah marries Luxton scion Teddy, who, after flirting briefly with bohemian ways, reverts to stodgy banker-hood. Languishing in London while her estranged father lets Riverton decay, Hannah relies increasingly on Grace, now her personal maid. Hannah's mistaken assumption that Grace knows shorthand leads both to make a tragic error in judgment. Meanwhile, Robbie resurfaces, his psyche scarred by war. Although ostensibly courting Emmeline, Robbie is drawn into an adulterous affair with Hannah that proves his undoing.Though the climactic revelation feels contrived, Morton's characters and their predicaments are affecting, and she recreates the period with a sure hand. (Kirkus Reviews)