01-22-2008 07:08 PM
I am not usually a reader who gravitates towards historical fiction, but Kate Morton has me infatuated with the 1920's. She write about the time period with such carefully researched knowledge, and her description - while not overdone - add a dimension to the book that keeps you reading.
I will read more of Kate Morton's books in the future!
01-22-2008 09:18 PM
The author has truly written a gem. She gives such fantastic descriptions that you easily float from present day back in time to relive in such vivid details a wonderful story. I never wanted to put the book down and Kate Morton has you hanging on till the last page. A wonderful read that gets the emotions flowing as fast a this amazing page turner.
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams..." -Dr. Seuss
01-23-2008 11:00 AM - edited 01-23-2008 11:16 AM
Kate Morton's debut novel The House at Riverton is filled with secrets. And it is ninety-eight year old Grace Bradley, former maid to the Hartford family at Riverton, who narrates the tale of secrets and interwoven lives against a backdrop of World War I and the "Roaring Twenties".
Ms. Morton's novel definitely begins with a lot of promise...bringing Grace to life in a strong, engaging style, setting the stage with her descriptions of Riverton and presenting a well-researched historical time life. However, many of the elements of the story itself and the secrets to be revealed are too predictable...Many readers will recognize the sequence of events and the secrets of Riverton are not really mysteries. Additionally, the narrator Grace is the only memorable character...all the other players (Hannah, Emmeline, Teddy, Deborah, Frederick, etc.) are shallow stereotypes revealing major character flaws.
I would recommend this novel for a week-end or travel reading selection. It was an easy read once I stopped comparing it to similar
For a well-crafted suspenseful classic I would select Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale is also one of my current favorites.
Message Edited by nhawkinsII on 01-23-2008 11:16 AM
01-23-2008 12:26 PM - edited 01-23-2008 12:34 PM
I dearly love historical fiction and this is a great one. Kate has such a way with description that I was transported to whatever time she wanted me & she easily brought me back & forth. We need more of this caliper reading. Life intruded when I was reading it & I felt the resentment. If possible I would have read it straight through. Have already recommended it to the library in my area & to the book clubs that I attend. Can't wait to discuss it face to face with my clubs. My rating - top notch.
Message Edited by flamingo on 01-23-2008 12:34 PM
01-23-2008 01:12 PM
A mystery of long ago. Can Grace come to terms with what happened yesteryear?
All said and done, I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really would have given it a 4 if the middle of the book had not been so long winded and the ending was too predictable. Still--I look forward to reading more from this author.
Another "must read" for 2008--The Souvenir by Therese Fowler
01-23-2008 02:59 PM
The House at Riverton
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.
01-23-2008 06:42 PM
01-24-2008 01:20 AM
01-24-2008 01:22 PM
War and remembrance
“War makes history seem deceptively simple. They provide clear turning points, easy distinctions: before and after, winner and loser, right and wrong. True history, the past, is not like that. It isn’t flat or linear. It has no outline. It is slippery, like liquid; infinite and unknowable, like space. And it is changeable: just when you think you see a pattern, perspective shifts, an alternative version is proffered….”
The House at Riverton is a true historical novel, in all senses of the term. Told from the first person perspective of 98 year old Grace, the narrative alternates between present and past, the story flowing seamlessly from the recesses of her memory and more than 50 years of painful reflection. Riverton has many themes: the myriad damages wrought by war, the relentlessly impersonal evolution of society, the slippery intricacies of relationships, the crucial importance of self-actualization. It is mystery in reverse: from many clues, from the atmosphere of secrecy and suspense, we know with absolute certainty that something dreadful happens, but the exact nature of the tragedy becomes fully apparent only on the final page. Ms Morton’s characters, Grace, the sisters, the men in their lives, the servants, are genuine and vibrant, real people that the reader comes to know, love, hate, and care about in one way or another. By the conclusion of this finely crafted novel, we know Grace the best, and as she faces her own death, we understand that she has learned important lessons from the past, has truly learned to live her own life on her own terms.
Riverton is an exceptionally strong debut from a gifted writer. One can only imagine and anticipate what Morton might have in store for us next!
01-24-2008 02:13 PM
This is my first book in about six months. I enjoyed reading it. I couldn't get myself to put the book down for the first couple of chapters. It was really ncie to get 'transported' to the 1930s. I gave it four stars because the ending was a little too predictable. I'm adding Kate Morton to my list of favorite authors.
01-24-2008 08:53 PM
Kate Morton and her novel The House at Riverton have introduced me to an unexpected love for a historically set piece of fiction. This book not being my usual choice of subject left me pleasantly surprised to find myself struggling to put it down. I desperately squeezed every free moment I had to just turn one more page and loose myself even deeper into the lives of her richly developed characters.
Mrs. Morton's writing flows freely with just the right amount of description, enough to carry the reader away to another time and place, stopping short of too much where she might loose the reader to boredom. I am impressed with the authors ability to carry the reader through the transitions of the timeline of the main characters life, switching back and forth from the present to that of the past many times, as an aging main character takes account of her life and shares her own witnessing of past scandalous events. I found myself eager to read on and learn the secrets of her story and although the author allows you to have your own suspicions as to what they are, you never guess the final confessions of the story's main character and are never disappointed that your intuitions proved correct, for Mrs. Morton's story telling abilities prove to be a very rewarding reading experience. I am left wanting more as I so enjoyed the journey this novel took me on.
I look forward to reading this author again and again!
01-25-2008 02:57 AM
More than just a story, this book is an experience, one that, unfortunately for the reader, must eventually end. The class differences, the separation of upstairs and downstairs, and the impossibility of these two social classes ever existing on equal footing is clearly woven throughout this remarkable tale. Yet, love, loyalty, and character are highly valued by both sides.
For a lovely read that sneaks up on you, grabs you, and then takes you on a wild ride, I highly recommend The House at Riverton. Too often I read it late into the night, stopping only when I could no longer keep my eyes open. I can't wait until Kate Morton offers us her next book. She's a wonderful writer who can only get better over time!
01-25-2008 01:38 PM
I would give this book 4 stars. The story evokes a time that no longer exist, and that's what good historical fiction does. The House at Riverton and the people who inhabit it, are in their own little world. And of course, when the real world intrudes, everything changes. The main character, Grace, takes us on a journey of her life and people she encounters. To her, the past is something she doesn't like to think about, but she can't really forget it. If you like these type of books, I would suggest In Pale Battalions, by Robert Goddard. It deals with similar themes.
01-25-2008 02:45 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. I loved the characters as well as the small mysteries that kept you reading. Kate Morton does a great job with the sense
of what it was like to live during the time. I can't wait to read another of her books, loved the ending as well!
01-25-2008 04:13 PM
I enjoyed every minute reading this book and was sad when I had finished it. It did, for me, start out a little slow, but the more I read the further I felt like I was a bystander watching everything unfold. I normally read more non-fiction books than fiction, but I will look for more books by Kate Morton.
01-26-2008 08:23 AM
5-Stars for “The House at Riverton,” a well written mystery told through the eyes of Grace, our 96 year-old narrator. As Grace told her sometimes painful story, I was transported back in time through the authot's use of flashbacks and family history. The book grabbed my attention immediately, kept me reading, and the characters are still invading my thoughts. Kate Morton’s writing style leaves me wanting to read more by her.
I recommend this book to people who love mysteries, family histories, and writing techniques like flashbacks. It is a book that easily lends itself to discussion by small or large groups.
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
01-26-2008 09:44 PM
Kate Morton's prose was very easy to get engrossed in. I particularly enjoyed the no fuss, no muss way she had of revealing answers, almost as if they were no big deal. I was quite impressed with the way she, a young woman, precisely captured the essence and insights of an older woman. Grace, is a fully formed protagonist but not without her flaws. I personally, found it difficult to forgive her for her part in the broken relationship with her daughter.
Each and every character is rich and very vividly drawn - Hannah's fierce feminism and longing for freedom; Emmeline's wide-eyed innocence and later her wild partying; the stoic and ever dutiful staff of the house. Ah the house - equally vivid and as much a character and keeper of secrets. I found myself rather infatuated with the House and the grounds, I wanted to spend time in that library, though I didn't much envy Grace's having to clean it.
Though there were a few predictabilities, they only served to enhance the plot and the surprises were always unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Grace and was sad to see her secret revealed, because that meant the end of her story.
Final Take: 4.5/5
01-27-2008 08:41 AM
I would also recommend The Thiteenth Tale
01-27-2008 10:29 AM - edited 01-27-2008 10:31 AM
Message Edited by jilliemarie on 01-27-2008 10:31 AM
01-27-2008 11:04 AM - edited 01-27-2008 11:08 AM
98 year old Grace had entered the great Riverton House as a 14 year old underservant at a time when servants seemingly had no life outside the family they served. She soon discovered that nothing is quite as straightforward as it seemed, and that each life was not a single thread but a tangled story of love, disappointment, stories and secrets within the strict scafolding of societal class and duty. Then World War I intervened and changed servants, masters and society itself in ways which left them never quite able to fit back into the previous comfortable form. So the tale proceeds to the climax--one which changed Grace’s life forever.
Grace carried the secret of that event throughout her lifetime—a secret that haunted her and changed her . But secrets don’t stay hidden forever and this one is once more in the public eye due to a forthcoming documentary about the house and inhabitants of Riverton. Unable to give up her training that servants are keepers of others’ secrets, Grace chooses not to tell the true story publicly but instead tapes it for her missing grandson so he will know the truth of her life. This story, then, is her memory of the events that both blessed and burdened her.
First time novelist Kate Morton tells a fine story, studded with subtle hints and misdirections that will keep the reader guessing. As a historical novel, it remains faithful to the time and flavor of the era that changed the world. Her descriptions and characterizations have rich texture and a style that will take you back to other works in the genre. A great chick lit read; a few tears shed; a satisifying ending.
Review also posted at www.LibraryThing.com
Message Edited by streamsong on 01-27-2008 11:08 AM