Book Reviews of The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton
The House at Riverton
Author: Kate Morton
ISBN-13: 9781416550518
ISBN-10: 1416550518
Publication Date: 4/22/2008
Pages: 480
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 99

3.9 stars, based on 99 ratings
Publisher: Atria
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

40 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The House at Riverton on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 19
This was such an incredibly haunting and heartbreaking book. You know from the very beginning that some unspeakable tragedy has occurred in the lives of the Hartford family, and you spend the rest of the book watching it all unfold.

'The House at Riverton' was a perfect blend of two other books. The style, tone, and structure of 'Riverton' reminded me very much of Diane Setterfield's 'The Thirteenth Tale.' The incredibly realistic descriptions and insights into the life of a professional serving staff was on par with Kazo Ishiguro's 'The Remains of the Day.'

The best summary I can give of what this book contains is a quote from the Author's Note. Morton states that the concept of 'Riverton' appealed to her because it was able to ..."utilize tropes of the literary gothic; the haunting of the present by the past; the insistence of family secrets; return of the repressed; the centrality of inheritance (material, psychological, and physical); haunted houses (particularly haunting of a metaphysical nature); suspicion concerning new technology and changing methods; the entrapment of women (whether physical or social) and associated claustrophobia; character doubling; the unreliability of memory and the partial nature of history; mysteries and the unseen; confessional narrative; and embedded texts."

The story is incredibly compelling and it will leave you guessing about the real truth of events until the very last pages. It stays with you even after you finish it just as much for the things that it reveals as for the things it leaves unspoken. This is a masterful debut novel and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Wow! I couldn't put this book down. It's exciting to the very end. I'm sure it will be made into a screenplay one day. I really enjoy the way Kate Morton writes. By the end of the book, you know the main characters well and get a glimpse of life as it is through their eyes. The Forgotten Garden is just as riveting; a story you won't easily forget.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Love the book but wanted to note that it is the same book as the Riverton book.
reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 5
This is a great book to transport you to another time. You will wish you could speak to the characters yourself! Anyone who loves a good character study book will enjoy this.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 74 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This book tells the tragic story of a grand English family through the eyes and ears of one of their servants, Grace. The book opens when Grace, age 98, is contacted by a woman who is in the process of making a movie that will depict the history of the House at Riverton. Grace is asked to be a consultant on the movie based on her experiences with the family and the house. While visiting the studio sets for the film, long hidden memories are awakened in Grace, who later decides she must record those memories for the benefit of her grandson, Marcus.

This story of the House at Riverton begins in 1914 when a 14 year-old Grace hires on as a servant girl in the house. She soon meets the Hartford children, who are all about the same age as Grace, and she is immediately smitten with them. All the children grow older as the country enters into WWI, which takes an immeasurable toll on the family. As the Hartford girls go on to make their debut into society they wrestle with the new post-war attitudes and expectations of what it means to be a modern woman verses what has traditionally been a woman's role in society. The entire Hartford family history leads up to a very mysterious, very public tragedy that gradually comes into focus as the story fleshes out.

In the book, Grace's memories of the Hartford family are interspersed with glimpses of Grace's life since her time in service to the Hartford family and her present day life as an elderly lady in a nursing facility. The reader is drawn back and forth between the present and the past, constantly discovering little pieces of the puzzle, sometimes in the past and sometimes in the present; a convention that keeps the story fresh and alive throughout the book. Ms. Morton has done a wonderful job not only of representing the early 20th century in both events and social attitudes, but also in creating a truly believable cast of characters with which to populate her creation.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This was such an incredibly haunting and heartbreaking book. You know from the very beginning that some unspeakable tragedy has occurred in the lives of the Hartford family, and you spend the rest of the book watching it all unfold.

'The House at Riverton' was a perfect blend of two other books. The style, tone, and structure of 'Riverton' reminded me very much of Diane Setterfield's 'The Thirteenth Tale.' The incredibly realistic descriptions and insights into the life of a professional serving staff was on par with Kazo Ishiguro's 'The Remains of the Day.'

The best summary I can give of what this book contains is a quote from the Author's Note. Morton states that the concept of 'Riverton' appealed to her because it was able to ..."utilize tropes of the literary gothic; the haunting of the present by the past; the insistence of family secrets; return of the repressed; the centrality of inheritance (material, psychological, and physical); haunted houses (particularly haunting of a metaphysical nature); suspicion concerning new technology and changing methods; the entrapment of women (whether physical or social) and associated claustrophobia; character doubling; the unreliability of memory and the partial nature of history; mysteries and the unseen; confessional narrative; and embedded texts."

The story is incredibly compelling and it will leave you guessing about the real truth of events until the very last pages. It stays with you even after you finish it just as much for the things that it reveals as for the things it leaves unspoken. This is a masterful debut novel and I highly recommend it.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 70 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Amazingly written, and completely envelops you with each passing moment. Grace is now at the age of 99, and reflecting on her full life to her grandson. She was a young houemaid that grew to be a proper lady's maid, entwined within a family of privilege in the early 1900s in a country estate in England. The story moves along quickly and thoroughly, and there is nothing left hanging in this book -- you will be drawn into a lifetime of secreats and revelations, and you will not regret one moment spent with the characters in this book!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I really enjoy Kate Morton's writing style. I read her 2nd book, The Forgotten Garden, first and absolutely loved it. I give that one 5 stars. The House at Riverton did not keep me on the edge of my seat as much as The Forgotten Garden but this is a very good book too. I'm looking forward to reading more from Kate Morton.
reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 1
This book has become a favorite of mine. It is excellent story and is very well written; from the very beginning it will take hold of you.

The story is told from the perspective of Grace Bradley who is looking back on her life. Grace at the age of 14 went to work for the Hartford family at Riverton House as a servant just prior to the start of World War I. Grace's life becomes intertwined in the lives of the two Hartford daughters, Hannah and Emmeline; she becomes particularly devoted to Hannah. At a glamorous party held at Riverton a young poet dies and only Grace, Hannah and Emmeline know the truth of what really happened.

The plot is captivating and after you finish this book you will still be thinking about the characters and nuances of the story line. This book does not disappoint.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 46 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was OK, but not great. I didn't think it was particularly engaging until the last 100 pages. It kind of reminded me of a romance novel.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is the predecessor to Downton Abbey, a story of house help and the contrast of their lives to the gentry they serve. It is also a mystery that I did not figure out, was surprised by, which is unusual. It is a good read, all the way round.
reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 1
If you're a fan of Downton Abbey, you will love this book, which is set in the same era, with footmen and handmaids, and all the allure of a high society, dowagers, lords and ladies and the like. (I swear you'll will hear Carson's voice in your head, every time the butler, Mr. Hamilton speaks, and Daisy's voice for Katie's, William's for Alfred's, etc., etc.!)

Such an intriguing story line which keeps your interest all the way through. You know there will be no happy ending here, but you are compelled to finish the story, to see how it ends (and there are twists!).

I gave it four stars out of five, since it got a tad bit long-winded, but the final 100 pages or so re-grab your interest (and will keep you up half the night, just so you can finish). Am looking forward to reading more from this author!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 371 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was fantastic, especially for a debut novel. If you liked The Thirteenth Tale or Dauphne de Maurier's novels, you should like this book. Despite the fact that it takes place mostly between 1914 and 1924, there are a lot of elements of the early Victorian Gothic style. The story is told in flashbacks from 1999 which allows the author to really work with showing how much England changed during the 20th century. The story follows a lady's maid and the family she works for, especially the sisters she is assigned to serve. Some of what you find out late in the book, you kind of expect - but the twist in the very last 3 pages of the book comes as a shock, and leaves you with something of a sense of betrayal as the narrator releases her great secret only at the very end, and it is based fully on what had seemed a minor misunderstanding early in the book. It's not a happy ending or even a happy book in general, but it is a very satisfying story. The author does a good job of tying up any loose ends which is often not the case in Gothic-type novels.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I liked the book but did not love it. I selected it for my month to choose a book for my book club. The general consensus (which I agreed with) was that this was a bit slow and also a bit predictable at times. I don't watch Downton Abbey, but several members do and said this is a similar plot...
reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 1
Loved, loved, loved this book! Could not put it down. You just want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next! I can't wait to read more of Kate Morton's books!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was the last book by Kate Morton that I read, although it was her first book. I love her descriptive narrative and she really gets you involved with the story. I felt it was a little disjointed and harder to follow that the other two books, but, of course, it was her first book. The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden were superb and Garden is my favorite of them all! I just couldn't seem to get as involved with the characters as I did the other books, although I still enjoyed this book tremendously. It is a good read and I recommend it!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 203 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Incredible book! Incredible story line! For a nearly 500 page book, this was a quick, enjoyable read. I loved all the suspense and couldn't put it down. Very well written and definitely worth reading. This is one of those stories that will haunt you and stay with you.

Liked this book better than "The Forgotten Garden".
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I was blown away by this author's first choice at a story. It was so accurate at times that I felt like I was stepping into the novel. What a great book! The characters were brooding, over bearing, and rather stubborn but then most of them were born to wealth.

I enjoyed the flashbacks in this book since it made it come more alive. The main character really told her story and I felt like I got every question answered. It was truly an interesting novel and I appreciated all the time the author took to put it together. Definitely one author I would love to read more by!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is an extremely well-written first novel. The characters are captivating from beginning to end. It will most assuredly find the way to my "best" reads of all time list. I recommend it highly.
reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 1
This was a great long read book. I needed to read it that way so I could take it all in. You can picture the grand manor house, the servents, the children that grew up there. My love for detail was what got me hooked. I also read Kate Morton's other book Forgoten Garden which was wonderful. The time period and the recall of detail is a plus for me. I would recomend this book to anyone who wants to be transported to a different time and place.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 75 more book reviews
The crumbling of a prominent British family as seen through the eyes of one of its servants. At 14, Grace Reeves leaves home to work for her mother's former employers at Riverton House.

She is the same age as Hannah, the headstrong middle child who visits her uncle, Lord Ashbury, at Riverton House with her siblings Emmeline and David.

Fascinated, Grace observes their comings and goings and, as an invisible maid, is privy to the secrets she will spend a lifetime pretending to forget.

But when a filmmaker working on a movie about the family contacts a 98-year-old Grace to fact-check particulars, the memories come swirling back.

The plot largely revolves around sisters Hannah and Emmeline, who were present when a family friend, the young poet R.S. Hunter, allegedly committed suicide at Riverton. Grace hints throughout the narrative that no one knows the real story, and as she chronicles Hannah's schemes to have her own life and the curdling of younger Emmeline's jealousy, the truth about the poet's death is revealed.


A riveting plot, a touching but tense love story and a haunting ending.

I love finding new writers and ones that are not from the States.

Fantastic!!!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 30 more book reviews
Haunting..............the characters are just haunting. I will think about this book long after I have read it. A must read for anyone! Can't recommend it enough!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 13 more book reviews
Great use of recall to fill in the past of the main character, reminded me a little bit of 'The Thirteenth Tale'. Well worth the read!
reviewed The House at Riverton on
I really enjoyed this book. Kate Morton gets you attached to her characters and I find myself thinking about them long after I have read the book. I loved the way it went from the present to the past. I found myself looking up the styles of the turn of the century through the 1920's to get an even better picture in my mind, although the author does a great job of this. Good historical fiction.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 12 more book reviews
Good story. Moves along quickly.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 35 more book reviews
This was such a great story! I loved the main character, Grace, who fits her name to perfection. It demonstrates well some aspects of the huge cultural changes in England that took place during the last century in regards to class and the rights of women. It tells the story of a women who began service in a Lord's manor as a young girl and follows her till the end of her life. This is the first of Kate Morten's books that I have read and I am eager to read more.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 21 more book reviews
I haven't finished reading this one yet, but so far I am really enjoying it..Kate Morton is a wonderful author...
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 6 more book reviews
I loved this book. Fans of "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier will recognize the opening line, and like Du Maurier's work, it is haunting with well-drawn characters. The Gothic elements never overwhelm the fact that it is a great story. Fans of Downton Abbey will love the setting and there's this same sense of the world changing and the characters having to come to terms with the old world being swept away by the war and the social changes of the 1920s. I love all of Morton's books, but this one remains my favorite.
reviewed The House at Riverton on
I liked this one much better than her more recent "The Forgotten Garden".
Great insights of life at the turn of the century into the WW1 era and '20s without the actual historical war accounts. More about the people on the fringes. Separation of the classes and their individual roles/family expectations are portrayed (a la Upstairs,Downstairs). The author uses first person and much dialogue throughout, more like a screenplay. Also, there are just enough characters, easy to follow and not have to "page back". Basically, "almost centenarian" starts recording her life story for her grandson. Written in flashbacks, it delivers a coming of age story, suspense, murder-mystery, romance, and class privilege.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 390 more book reviews
Other members seem to have liked this novel better than I did. I found it slow going in places and I have to say, I began skimming after a while. I think, however, it would make a very good film, with the camera to fill in visuals and actors to lend personality to some of its characters. I don't want to give the impression that it's a failure; I did finish it and I would look at other books this author does in future. However I didn't have the intense emotional reaction that it apparently provoked in other members who reviewed this book.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 204 more book reviews
The House at Riverton is full of secrets and stories. There are secret affairs, secret children, secret stories and secret deaths. The characters are very likeable and the historical novel, set in England in the 20's, is very well told. There are surprises all along the way, even right up to the last page. I recommend this one.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 13 more book reviews
Awesome book! Only becomes better and more intriguing the further you read.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 7 more book reviews
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you will love this book!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 252 more book reviews
This is my second Kate Morton book. I read the Secret Keeper and really liked it.

Grace at the age of 14 starts her life as a servant for a British family. She has accepted her role as a servant and follows the family and keeps their secrets. Grace has her own and she will only tell them to one person. Can Grace keep all the families secrets?

The book is rather large at 400+ pages and was sometimes uncomfortable in my hands. The story draws you in and the pages fly by. Some secrets are easy to figure out, others you will have to read the story and wait for Grace to let you in.

The House at Riverton (2006)
The Forgotten Garden (2008)
The Distant Hours (2010)
The Secret Keeper (2012)
The Lake House (2015)
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 76 more book reviews
Reminds me of the PBS series "Upstairs, Downstairs" and the book by Bradford "A Woman of Substance".
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 3 more book reviews
A bit of a slow start, but stay with it - Great Read!!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 5 more book reviews
Great read-- now a fan of Kate Morton and cant wait to read her next book the Forgotten Garden!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 382 more book reviews
I love Kate Morton's writing. Historical fiction mystery with some romance thrown in - what's not to love? She draws you into the era, the historical events, the lifestyles, the characters. Another good read!
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 95 more book reviews
This book was well written - I enjoyed it very much.
reviewed The House at Riverton on + 130 more book reviews
not as good as secret garden