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Frequent Contributor
hpthatbme
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎02-17-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton,

All I have to say is Wow! I finished the book and absolutely love it. Thanks for giving us a chance to read it before it is finally published. What was the significance of the triangle theme throughout the book, it seems that many characters had some type of triangle linked to them? After all we have the Hartford siblings and the game and the love triangles in which several were mentioned. Also why did we not learn more about Grace's life after her years in service? I would have loved to know more about her life since she has become such a wonderful character to follow.

Thanks again,

Heather
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hello Ms. Morton, I must say that The House at Riverton is one of the best books I ahve read in a long time. I loved how it had a Victorian flavor to it. It reminded me so much of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, two of my favorite Victorian Lit books of all time. As I was reading, many of my questions were answered, but I still had a couple...

1. I noticed that three was a recurring number in your story, Why did you choose that particular number?

2. What is the significance of "fog" in the story? I associated it with Robbie, was I correct in doing so? It just seemed that everytime he came around the fog was rolling in and whenever he left the fog was rolling out.

3. The biggest question I had was, Did Hannah know that Grace was her sister?

4. What inspired you to write this novel?

5. How did you come up with the title for each chapter?

6. Do you think that Grace's character would have been less powerful if she was a lady and not a servant?

7. What was the premise of "The Game"?

8. Does naming the character Grace have any significance?

I will stop there...I hope to get on again really soon.
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hello Kate;

I do not think it told who knew about Grace's mom affair? Did Jemina know? Or Frederick's mom or dad.? Had you already decided who was to be Grace's dad or did you ever change your mind? This was such a delightful book, it will always be in my memory, for a long time anyway.
Frequent Contributor
paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

lilfisha wrote: "On page 143 the paragraph under the icon, about waking up earlier than usual doesn't make sense. She says she wakes up earlier than usual and that the sun stroked her face. Next she says it is nice to wake up with the light rather than the dark. I am confused."

lilfisha, remember what happened before this piece...both the Major and his son, Lord Ashbury died...it was a momentous occasion, not only because of their deaths, but also because the birhd of Jemima's baby will determine whether or not Frederick will become the new Lord Ashbury...

Her waking up earlier could be a result of the fact that she couldn't sleep because of her anticipation for the news about the baby's gender...it could also be because she was too disturbed by the deaths of the Lord and the Major. Everything that happened that day, would impact Hannah, her "lifeline", and ultimately her position in the household...it being nice to wake up with the light, could just be a reference to the fact that as a servant, she had to wake up before the sun rose to take care of household chores and help in the kitchen so that everything would be ready for the master/mistress of the house...so having the luxury to sleep in and wake up at a "regular" time, sunrise, was a gift to her...I hope this gives you some ideas as to how to interpret those lines...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Frequent Contributor
paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

nhawkinsII wrote: "2. Why do we never learn the name of Grace's mother nor really learn how or why she left Riverton?"

I wondered the same thing too...I noted that her name was never mentioned...it was always written as "Mother." What is the significance of not naming Grace's mother? Is she just representative of all women who found themselves in situations like hers, those forgetting their place, servants crossing the lines between the upstairs and downstairs?
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Contributor
barrycaseyii
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎12-26-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Welcome Kate! I thoroughly enjoyed your novel. It is hands-down one of the best I have ever read. I went through an Austen and Bronte phase, and your novel was remeniscent of their writing. I am also a mystery fan, and the mystery of the "suicide" was an added bonus :smileyhappy: I received the novel a few days after Christmas, and fi9nished reading it in one day. I literally could not put it down. My roommate also read the novel, and gave you rave reviews.

Well...to my questions:

1 - Did you find it hard to differentiate between Grace, youg and old? I believed both facets of the character fully, and just wonder how you got in the right mind-set to write from each perspective.

2 - When is your next novel to be released? I am barely able to contain myself, I am so excited.

That's all for me. I have enjoyed discussing the book here on B&N.com, and with my roommate. Your novel has encouraged my roommate to expand her horizons and reado some Austen. She is not a reader, so this is a HUGE feat :smileyhappy:

Have a wonderful day!

Barry
Frequent Contributor
Litfan
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

[ Edited ]
Hi Ms. Morton,

First I want to say how immensely I enjoyed your novel. You truly did create a book that I "disappeared" into for the better part of two days!

One thing I wanted to ask was about your descriptions of shell shock in the novel. I was touched by the descriptions of Alfred and Robbie's responses to the trauma of war. My husband is an Iraq war veteran, and so we have had real life experience with these issues. I have to say that your descriptions are so true to life, I wondered what had inspired them-- thorough research, conversations with veterans, etc? You just captured it so perfectly that I was curious about that. I am struck by how the novel touches on themes that resonate no matter what the time period, especially the theme of the impact of war not just on those who are on the front lines, but an entire society. A theme as relevant today as when Grace was at Riverton nearly a century ago.

Thanks for being here and for the treat of reading this fantastic book!

Message Edited by Litfan on 01-14-2008 12:40 PM
Frequent Contributor
Iulievich
Posts: 38
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton:

Mine is more in the nature of a request than question.

With due deference to my own curiosity and that of my co-readers, please DO NOT TELL US such things as who knew or did not know about Grace's paternity or, for that matter, whether Frederick was really her father. Do not clarify her relationship with Ruth, Ursula, or Marcus. Please be careful not to go too far in "clearing things up" in general. Tease us with more clues if you like, but please do not just tell us.

The number of mysteries left spinning at the end of The House at Riverton is one reason why this book has consumed my attention more than any that I have read over the last several years and more than any work of fiction that I can remember.

One of the most seductive pleasures of reading The House at Riverton is having to "sleuth out" all these answers and never being absolutely sure that we have noticed all the evidence or drawn the right conclusions.

The book is more convoluted than Agatha Christie, more deeply nuanced than Du Maurier, and (IMHO) as profound as Scott Fitzgerald. I am astounded and immensely pleased. It is an incredibly elegant presentation on an incredible number of levels.

Thank you for offering it to us.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an action but a habit." -Aristotle
Inspired Contributor
goingeast
Posts: 89
Registered: ‎01-03-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

[ Edited ]
Hello Ms. Morton,

I had to thank you for the privilege of reading this novel. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the first time I have ever participated in an online reading discussion of a book. Quite a unique experience.

I do have one very important question that involves something that was only implied in the novel. SPOILER ALERT! Was Ursula the grand-daughter of Robbie and Hannah? The reason I ask is because of the description of Ursula's eyes given by Grace..."They belonged to an oil portrait, round, deep and expressive, the rich colour of wet paint" (p.10). And then on p. 397, Hannah describes Robbie's eyes..."Such dark eyes. Like wet paint; full of secrets." If so, I like the way you leave it to the reader to figure it out.

Thanks again for allowing me to participate. Have you sold the movie rights yet? It would make a wonderful movie. I see that they placed a picture of Miriam Hopkins on the Australian version. I could easily see Johnny Depp playing Robbie Hunter (eyes like wet paint). Who did you imagine when you wrote the book, if anyone?

Thanks in advance for your responses. Best of luck on your future novels! I will be sure to read them.

Ann, goingeast

Message Edited by goingeast on 01-14-2008 12:52 PM

Message Edited by goingeast on 01-14-2008 12:53 PM
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author

It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks to Barnes and Noble for having me, and to everyone for participating in the reading group! I'm really looking forward to answering questions and discussing The House at Riverton over the next few weeks.
Kate Morton


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
Frequent Contributor
bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author



KateMorton wrote:
It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks to Barnes and Noble for having me, and to everyone for participating in the reading group! I'm really looking forward to answering questions and discussing The House at Riverton over the next few weeks.
Kate Morton




Welcome Kate. We look forward to your being here. There are quite a few questions from many readers already posted in the thread so there is great interest and enthusiasm.

Are you in Australia posting or are you in a more local timezone? My guess would be that it is Tuesday morning already in Aussieland.

I really enjoyed HAR and thank you again for being with us.

Bentley
Inspired Contributor
Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Thanks for joining in our discussion Ms. Morton and for the wonderful book you wrote. I don't have any questions to ask at this time, but just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your book. It received a 5 star review from me.
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

[ Edited ]
Hi, Kate!

Thanks so much for joining us. I wrote a young adult biography of Sylvia Plath (Greenwood, 2004), so your comments in the video about Al Alvarez's influence on your book really resonated with me!

Anyway, I wanted to ask--with the house being such a character in RIVERTON--would you say you were influenced at all by the houses in American literature? I've always been struck by how many American novels feature prominent houses. The scene you describe in the first chapter (and the video), for example, in the 1920s with the party, fireworks, jazz, and a house in the background reminds me a lot of THE GREAT GATSBY.

Thank you!

(p.s. I'm a moderator for other clubs here at B&N.com but pop around the other boards from time to time.)

~ConnieK

Message Edited by ConnieK on 01-14-2008 07:02 PM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Inspired Correspondent
nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Welcome Kate,

This is a wonderful book, a sincere pleasure to read. Several of my questions have already been asked, particularly about the house as a character. I'd like to know how you chose to write the book as a flashback. It's effective because Grace comes across as a very likable old lady. I don't think she would have had the same stature if the story had been told in a strict chronological sequence.

Glad to have you here!

Nancy
Frequent Contributor
nickco3
Posts: 38
Registered: ‎12-21-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hello Kate,
My question isn't so much about the book. But I was curious to know, who in fact is your favorite author? What kind of books, did you like growing up? Lastly, what are your top 5 favorite reads of all time? I enjoyed reading House at Riverton, and am excited that you are joining us. Thanks
Christine :smileyhappy:
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi there--I'm so glad that you enjoyed the book! I find it difficult to explain why, but I've always been drawn to writing in the viewpoint of characters who are much older than I am. I pulled out an old short story I'd written in high school the other day and was surprised to realise that it was in the viewpoint of an old man who had done a terrible, terrible thing.

As I was growing up I had (and still have) a number of very important friends who were much older than I was, and with whom I spent a lot of time. I'm attracted to the accumulated wisdom and life experiences found in many elderly voices, and they're particularly well suited to confessional narratives, like The House at Riverton, which are my favourite types to read and to write. Channelling a character's voice is a little like acting--in fact, I often find myself pulling faces as I type, depending upon the character's mood and what they're saying. Luckily, I write in private!!

Grace's elderly voice, in particular, came to me very clearly. I 'heard' her loudly even before I typed the first word of the story and I missed her awfully when I'd finished writing. Hers was a very natural voice for me--I suspect there's always been a ninety-eight year old woman very comfortably lodged inside my brain awaiting her opportunity for expression!


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi Connie,

I adore houses, particularly old houses where layers of past lives rub against one another in the corridors (!), and I always thought of the house in my book as a character rather than a setting so it's lovely to know that it came across as such when you were reading.

The Great Gatsby is certainly a favourite book of mine, and Jay Gatsby's house a vivid example of a grand house whose glamour and excess mask a mysterious sense of melancholy. I think FSF manages to convey brilliantly the post-war emptiness that lay beneath the swirling, frenetic energy of the 20s. The last line of Gatsby is one of my all-time favourite lines in literature: 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.' (paraphrasing). Gives me chills!

Kate


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Kate,
I am one of the minority in here who was not as thrilled with the book as I had hoped. My biggest problems were that altho I was very interested in the older Grace in the beginning of the book, as some of us felt later in the book, her character, i.e. the older Grace became not much more than a distraction to the story we were enjoying and seem to just appear at the most awkward times. I didn't feel the transitions between the old and young Grace very smooth. Some of us discussed how much we might have enjoyed it better had we met her at the first telling the story, going back in memory, and then staying out of it, till the end. I am not completely sure but I think thats kind of how they worked it with the old woman in Titanic.

I didn't find this the mystery I was hoping for, so much was really given away so soon or all at once. We all pretty much figured by the first couple of chapters that Frederick was Graces father, and unless you tell us, well that was still left up in the air at the end, I do believe we knew it ahead so when Grace is figuring it out in her mind, it was like waiting for her to catch up to us, rather than visa versa.

Along those lines, it felt like you didn't let us build to the answers to the mysteries. There were long passages of descriptions and such but then, this is my biggest example of what I mean, the end of the chapter "The Dinner" at least gave us the intrigue of hmm, wonder how this will play out with Hannah and Teddy, so really looking forward to the building story of this pair. Then the first line of the next chapter "A suitable Husband", you give it away! "Hannah and Teddy were married...." AHHHHH, cause then on the next page and two chapters, you go back and fill this end but its not that exciting now that we know where its going. It was like you snuck up behind me while reading a good book and leaned over my shoulder and said "the butler did it!" I was so frustrated by your own spoilers of the intrigue. That one in particular, I looked at it again, and I thought, if you leave page 230 out all together and that chapter picked up on page 231, it would have flowed perfectly from the last chapter and let us come to learn about it as it was unfolding. The who done it at the end, well we all knew it was one of those three, just not which one yet.

I think the best written, most interesting, believable parts were two Grace would not be privy too and could not have been told in the detail you did and they were my favorite. Those were Hannah and Teddy at the bridge and the whole Chapter "Hannah's Story". Both were so well written and flowing and put us right there without a go between, the best little stories within a story. I give you big kudos on those.

Sorry to make this so long. I tried to stick with just a couple of ideas tho on this one but also I did want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, for Chapter titles! I sooo prefer them to page numbers in trying to go back and find something in the book and as some of us have said, we wished at the top of each page within the book , the title chapter was there instead of the name of the book, that would have been wonderfully helpful too. And might I say on another positive note, I love your choice of chapter titles themselves, the suited each chapter so well. thanks for being with us too.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ooh; I love that phrasing, Kate--"layers of past lives rub[bing] against one another in the corridors!" I so agree! Thanks for the reminder of that stunning last sentence in GATSBY, too. I have visited and studied at many authors' houses in the U.S., England (including the Brontes' in Haworth), and Ireland, and nearly wrote my dissertation on houses in Amer. Lit.. That's one selfish reason why I asked the question about the house as a character! I find the connection between houses and literature fascinating.

Thanks for responding, and I do hope you enjoy the online book club interaction here. Congratulations on the upcoming American release of RIVERTON!

~ConnieK



KateMorton wrote:
Hi Connie,

I adore houses, particularly old houses where layers of past lives rub against one another in the corridors (!), and I always thought of the house in my book as a character rather than a setting so it's lovely to know that it came across as such when you were reading.

The Great Gatsby is certainly a favourite book of mine, and Jay Gatsby's house a vivid example of a grand house whose glamour and excess mask a mysterious sense of melancholy. I think FSF manages to convey brilliantly the post-war emptiness that lay beneath the swirling, frenetic energy of the 20s. The last line of Gatsby is one of my all-time favourite lines in literature: 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.' (paraphrasing). Gives me chills!

Kate


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


nfam wrote:
Welcome Kate,

This is a wonderful book, a sincere pleasure to read. Several of my questions have already been asked, particularly about the house as a character. I'd like to know how you chose to write the book as a flashback. It's effective because Grace comes across as a very likable old lady. I don't think she would have had the same stature if the story had been told in a strict chronological sequence.

Glad to have you here!

Nancy




Hi Nancy,
Thanks for your post; I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. One of the things that interest me most as a writer is the relationship between the present and the past. I'm attracted to the idea that history isn't static, that it is notional and fluid and with us all the time. For me, as as writer and as a reader, the past is always more vivid when connected clearly to the present (as opposed to straight historical fiction where the entire storyline takes place in the past).

From the book's conception I knew that I wanted to use a first person voice to confess a long-kept secret, so the use of flashback was always going to be necessary. As Grace's health deteriorated and the energy of her storytelling became more compulsive, I really enjoyed finding different ways to segue into the past narrative. For instance, at the beginning of the book the transition to flashback is more mechanical, Grace very much in control of her own thoughts; however, as the story progresses and the past exercises a greater pull over her, she slips in and out in a much more fluid way.

Kate


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