From the Publisher
The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel
set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of Downton
Abbey, it is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a
mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in
flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for
Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when
she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life
was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most
particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.
In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the
house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah
and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth.
In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her
last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who
is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace
back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in
flashback, this is the story of Grace''s youth during the last days
of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the
vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of
life vanished forever.
The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden
forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier.
It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war and a
beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.
Originally published to critical acclaim in Australia, already
sold in ten countries and a #1 bestseller in England, The House
at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and
passion, with characters -- and an ending -- the reader won''t soon
About the Author
Kate Morton is a fiction writer who was born in South Australia in 1976. She earned a degree in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London, followed by an English Literature degree from the University of Queensland. One of her specializations has been studying tragedy in Victorian literature. Morton's novel "The Shifting Fog" has been translated into 12 languages, and she won the Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction Book of the Year in 2007.
1. Do you think of The House at Riverton
as a tragic
novel? How are the characters'' tragic outcomes caused by the
incompatibility of what they want and who they are?
2. How important to the novel''s outcome is Grace''s longing for
a sister? When Grace finds out about her true parentage, why does
she choose not to tell Hannah? Is it the right decision? Would
things have ended differently had she done otherwise?
3. Kate Morton has said that the novel''s setting is as
important to her as its characters, that Riverton Manor is as much
a character of the book as its inhabitants. Do you agree? Does
Riverton mirror the fates of the Hartford family and the
aristocracy in general? If so, in what ways?
4. The First World War was a catalyst for enormous social and
cultural change. Not a character in The House at Riverton
is left untouched by this. Whose life is most altered? Why?
5. Is there a heroine in The House at Riverton? If so,
who is it and why?
6. Grace and Robbie are both illegitimate children of
upper-class parents; however, their lives and opportunities are
vastly different. Why?
7. Duty is very important to the youthful Grace. Did Grace''s
sense of duty contribute to the novel''s conclusion? If so, how?
Would things have turned out better for the characters if Grace had
made different decisions?
8. One of the main themes of The House at Riverton is
the haunting of the present by the past. In what ways does the
novel suggest that the past can never be escaped? Do you agree that
our pasts are inescapable?
9. Grace has resisted ever telling anyone about the events at
Riverton. Why? What makes her change her mind? Is Grace a reliable
narrator? Given her motive for recording her memories, can we trust
10. The twentieth century was a period of great and accelerated
social change. In particular, the historical years that make up the
bulk of Grace''s memories comprised a time of enormous transition.
In what ways does Grace''s life exemplify these social changes?
11. Despite their differences, how might Grace and Hannah be
seen as "doubles"? How does Grace''s relationship with Alfred
mirror Hannah''s relationship with Robbie?
12. Another theme in The House at Riverton is that of
inheritance -- the way we are bound to our families through various
items that are passed between the generations. Along with material
inheritances, we are also subject to physical, social and
psychological legacies. These inheritances are important in making
us who we are, and are not easily escaped. In what way is this
notion explored in The House at Riverton? How do these
various types of inheritance influence the lives of Hannah,
Frederick, Teddy, Robbie, Grace, Jemima and Simion?
About the Book
This gorgeous debut novel is set in England between the two World Wars. The story of an aristocratic family, a mysterious death, and a vanishing way of life is told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept secrets for more than 50 years.