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The House at Riverton
The House at Riverton
Author: Kate Morton
This debut page-turner from Australian Morton recounts 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 Riverto...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781416550532
ISBN-10: 1416550534
Publication Date: 3/17/2009
Pages: 480
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 292 ratings
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The House at Riverton on
Helpful Score: 6
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 + 28 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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 + 74 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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.
BaileysBooks avatar reviewed The House at Riverton on + 491 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 + 289 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
At the beginning of The House at Riverton I needlessly worried that it would be persistently hinting at the dark secret to be revealed ahead. Instead I found myself pleasantly immersed in both timelines. Grace, a nursing home resident, begins to relive old memories when contacted by a filmmaker about a project at Riverton Manor where she once worked in domestic service. Although the film is about the suicide of poet R.S. Hunter witnessed by the two Hartford sisters of the estate during a grand society party, the past timeline actually chronicles Grace's time in service, a bygone era where duty and service held deep meaning for those downstairs. It is also a story of how war--the Great War--traumatizes even those who return. Morton does an admirable job weaving the present timeline with the past, creating strong female characters, and presenting the deep dark secret with impact. A recommended read if you wish to visit early twentieth century England.
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sophiespencermom avatar reviewed The House at Riverton on + 9 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.
lucky7 avatar 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.
bothrootes avatar reviewed The House at Riverton on + 207 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.
eshaunessy avatar reviewed The House at Riverton on + 4 more book reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed this book!
prtyof10 avatar 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.

buffalogirl64 avatar 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.
tresjulie avatar reviewed The House at Riverton on + 7 more book reviews
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you will love this book!

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