The House at Riverton: A Novel

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The House at Riverton: A Novel

by Kate Morton

Washington Square Press | March 3, 2009 | Trade Paperback

The House at Riverton: A Novel is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 20.
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 decades.

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 forget.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 496 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.3 in

Published: March 3, 2009

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1416550534

ISBN - 13: 9781416550532

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! I ordered this book online after reading The Secret Keeper and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down...just like any of Kate's novels!!
Date published: 2014-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Literary Feast On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English county house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses are sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford. This story unfolds both in the 1920’s and 1999. Grace Bradley, in the 1920’s is a housemaid of Riverton Manor and in 1999 she is an old lady living in a nursing home approaching death, is visiting by a young director making a film about the poet’s suicide and is looking to Grace to fill in the missing pieces. The reader knows that Robbie McCourt, the poet, who commits suicide at Riverton in 1925, really didn’t, that the suicide story is a cover-up to a scandal. Grace knows what really happened that night and has kept that secret he entire life – until now, in her final years of life when she starts at the beginning, when she starts work at Riverton for the Hartford family. In the page-turner of a novel, beautifully written and reminiscent of the era in England prior to and after World War 1, the author succeeds in weaving a complex tale of passion, jealousy and intrigue utilizing the past memories of 98 year old Grace Bradley and the secret she has guarded for over 60 years. This story combines love, war, honour, family, money and scandals in an intricately woven web of deceit and secrets. This book has so many twists and turns that you never really know what is going to happen – until the very last page when the entire story is finally revealed. This book is a must read for lovers of historical novels and well written mysteries. The House at Riverton is a literary feast.
Date published: 2013-08-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Slow Start This is one of those books that I struggled to stay with for the first half. While there was some interesting aspects, it dragged for several chapters. I judge a book as great if I get home from my commute and want to continue reading it. Until the last 10 chapters, this was not one of those books. With that said, I didn't hate the book, and would read another by the same author. But, if it was as drawn out as this book, it would likely be the last.
Date published: 2012-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from For fans of Downton Abbey! I’m sure many of you have already read Kate Morton’s debut novel, The House at Riverton, but I only just finished it yesterday afternoon. If you haven’t already found a book to while away the dog day’s of summer, might I suggest you run to your bookstore immediately and purchase this one. Whew. What a read! Grace Bradley is fourteen years old when she comes to Riverton House to work. Her mother had also worked at the sprawling Essex manor house, but had to leave under mysterious circumstances. It is through Grace that we learn of Riverton and its inhabitants. " I have been thinking about the day I started at Riverton. I can see it clearly. The intervening years concertina and it is June 1914. I am fourteen again: naive, gauche. terrified, following Nancy up flight after flight of scrubbed elm stairs. Her skirt swishes efficiently with every step, each swish an indictment of my own inexperience." The story, though, starts in the present. Grace is an old woman now. Her husband is dead; her daughter is in her sixties and her beloved grandson, Marcus, has been missing for several weeks. When a filmmaker from America writes to ask if Grace would consult on a film she’s making about a tragedy at Riverton, Grace is pulled back into her memories. Fans of Downton Abbey will be able to picture Grace’s life perfectly: the servants downstairs, their dedication to service, their hierarchy. But Grace is more concerned with the Hartford siblings: David, Hannah and Emmeline. Over the years she becomes particularly close to Hannah and when Hannah marries, she is whisked off to London to live. The House at Riverton is about an aristocratic family in decline. Set between the two great wars, characters go off to their deaths, or come home damaged. The Roaring Twenties usher in an era of shifting sensibilities. Morton does a spectacular job of evoking a time and place. It’s easy to sympathize with the female characters who yearn for a different life and although criticism has been leveled at Grace for choosing service over personal happiness, I believe I understand her choice. Because Grace is looking back, the reader knows early on that some tragedy has befallen the Hartford family. That alone would be enough to turn the pages. But the novel takes its time arriving at its conclusion. Perhaps some readers found the novel slow and the prose over-written; I know it took me a while to settle into the story. However, when I left Grace, 468 pages later, it was with great sadness because even though this is the story of Riverton, Grace’s own story is inextricably linked.
Date published: 2012-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really liked this The House at Riverton / Kate Morton 4.5 stars Grace is 99 years old and there is going to be a movie made about some events at the house she worked at when she was young. She was 14-years old in 1914 when she was sent to live at Riverton as a domestic, the same place her mother had served before Grace was born. At Riverton, she became "close" to the young sisters Hannah (also 14) and Emmeline (10), at least as close as a servant might come to the people she serves. As they grew up together, there are plenty of secrets to be uncovered. I really liked this. The first half was mostly set-up with some hints thrown in, but it really picked up in the second half of the book. I don't think I liked it quite as much as The Forgotten Garden, but I liked it more than The Distant Hours. This will make my favourites list this year.
Date published: 2012-05-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Haunting I had read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would read The House at Riverton. The setting is very similar to The Forgotten Garden, the story itself was very interesting and sadly haunting. it was a little slow at times, but the ending more than made up for it. Kate Morton is a very good writer, looking forward to reading the Distant Hours soon!
Date published: 2012-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read All of Kate's books have kept me engrossed and this is no exception.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from enjoyable This was my first book to read by this author and I would buy other books by her. Really enjoyed her writing. Interesting story.
Date published: 2011-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hauntingly beautiful.. What an amazing book! I just finished reading it and still have goosebumps. The House at Riverton is very well written - an intricately woven story with strong characters that you come to feel for just as Grace (the narrator) does. It's a mystery, romance, suspense, and a dramatic period-piece all tied together as one, and has all the elements of a classic. The story pulls you in and doesn't let you go. I read The Forgotten Garden first and enjoyed that too, but I have to say that I loved this book even more! I'm officially a fan!
Date published: 2011-08-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from disappointment I found this book a great disappointment. I had read The Forgotten Garden first and thoroughly enjoyed it. This novel in comparison is slow in getting going. in fact it didn't get going..the premise was interesting by wasn't well executed .i kept waiting for something to happen right up until the last 60 pages. The middle sagged dreadfully and some minor plots were started and not developed. It was like the author was trying really hard to pack every kind of plot enhancement into the book to the detriment of the overall novel. I would not recommend this novel. I would recommend The Forgotten Garden...everything this novel lacked is in that one.
Date published: 2011-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyable and very rivetting Similar to Morton's "Forgotten Garden", this book takes us back in time, as a story told by an elderly woman. I thoroughly enjoyed the "Forgotten Garden" and was very pleased with "The House at Riverton" because they both achieved the same outcome in entertaining us with the telling of a story which we continually wonder about, until the very end. The story brings us to a fascinating time in history, right after the turn of the century. The setting is England. We meet an aristocratic family, and the main character, Grace works as a house servant for this family. I think what I liked best about the book was how well Morton was able to connect the reader with Grace, as an elderly person. Although these particular times are rather infrequent; the majority of the story is told by Grace as a young person - I found myself very moved and affectionate towards the elderly Grace. Just an outstanding story, great character development, great ability to describe another era, and how people lived in those times...as well as the struggle for individuality that was so commonplace for women in that era. I really recommend this, if you enjoy historical fiction
Date published: 2011-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from mehh.... Okay. Where to begin? This book was too long. I found myself bored at the beginning and middle of the book. I expected more from Kate, but that's alright. It took me so long to read since I didn't bother to pick it up. Nothing pulled me. The book was filled with unneeded filler. It pulls you into the characters lives, but a bit too much! Loved the characters though! I loved the secret affair. That was fun. The ending was amazing as well. It is an overall sad book. Read if you must, but don't say I was the one to recommend it. That's all.
Date published: 2011-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended! LOVED this book!....I could not put it down from the very beginning right through to the very last page. Fantastic read!
Date published: 2010-12-13
Rated out of 5 by from Beautiful I too read this book after reading Morton's "Forgotten Garden". Like her other book, "The House at Riverton" draws you in. I could not put the book down. Morton's writing, her description of characters and her portrayal of the time are amazing. I highly recommend this book as well as her other and I'm so excited for her next book.
Date published: 2010-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I read this book after reading Kate's second novel "The Forgotten Garden" and loved this book just as much. Great story with a great twist at the end. Almost somewhat reminded me of Atonement in a way. I would definately recommend picking up both of Kate's novels as you will be dying for her next read to come out. Enjoy and happy reading :)
Date published: 2010-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book!! This one did not disappoint...I loved it!! Super I could not put it down....decided to read it after reading "The Fogotten Garden" and loved it just as much...she is great!!
Date published: 2010-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read This was such a wonderful book. Couldnt put it down. The way she brings the characters to life, its like you were there. Have already read her book The Forgotten Garden and it was the same. Cant wait to get Kate Mortons next book, The Distant Hours. A must have for your collection
Date published: 2010-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even better then I expected I ordered this book after I finished the author's second novel, the forgotten garden. I had thoroughly enjoyed that book and was anxious for this one to arrive. I was not disappointed. I brought the book with me everywhere until it was finished. It was just as good if not even better then the forgotten garden. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2010-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A page turner This book will keep you up at night, and sneaking moments from the day to read.. it is amazing and the ending will keep you thinking for weeks after you finished this wonderfully written story. Keep writing Kate Morton.
Date published: 2010-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It After just finishing "The Forgotten Garden" and loving it, I decided to go pick up Kate Morton's debut novel "The House At Riverton" which I loved equally as well. Kate Morton does an excellent job in drawing in the reader and keeping them just where she wants them...interested. I had this book with me every spare minute. Without giving any of this delicious story away, we are introduced at the beginning to Grace (the narrator) who worked as a servant at Riverton since age 14. For years her life revolved around the glamorous lifestyle of sisters Emmeline & Hannah. She is now in her 90's, and is being interviewed by a director who is making a film about certain events that lead to a death at Riverton. Memories resurface, relationships and bonds revisited, and we find that not only was Riverton a stately manor but it's occupants held many secrets. We are transported back in time to the early 1900's when aristocracy still existed , right through to the roaring 20's when it all crumbled and lifestyles took upon different meanings. This is a great book,with memorable characters and a suspenseful plot! Highly recommended!!
Date published: 2010-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT Kate Morton is so good-she brings to like the mood of the times and her characters are so vived-i loved this story and the mood-will read more of her books
Date published: 2010-05-15

– More About This Product –

The House at Riverton: A Novel

by Kate Morton

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 496 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.3 in

Published: March 3, 2009

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1416550534

ISBN - 13: 9781416550532

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.

Read from the Book

The House at Riverton GHOSTS STIR LAST November I had a nightmare. It was 1924 and I was at Riverton again. All the doors hung wide open, silk billowing in the summer breeze. An orchestra perched high on the hill beneath the ancient maple, violins lilting lazily in the warmth. The air rang with pealing laughter and crystal, and the sky was the kind of blue we’d all thought the war had destroyed forever. One of the footmen, smart in black and white, poured champagne into the top of a tower of glass flutes and everyone clapped, delighting in the splendid wastage. I saw myself, the way one does in dreams, moving amongst the guests. Moving slowly, much more slowly than one can in life, the others a blur of silk and sequins. I was looking for someone. Then the picture changed and I was near the summer house, only it wasn’t the summer house at Riverton—it couldn’t have been. This was not the shiny new building Teddy had designed, but an old structure with ivy climbing the walls, twisting itself through the windows, strangling the pillars. Someone was calling me. A woman, a voice I recognized, coming from behind the building, on the lake’s edge. I walked down the slope, my hands brushing against the tallest reeds. A figure crouched on the bank. It was Hannah, in her wedding dress, mud splattered across the front, clinging to the appliquéd roses. She looked up at me, her face pale where it emerged from shadow. Her voice chilled my blood. “You&
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Table of Contents

PART ONE

Ghosts Stir
The Drawing Room
The Nursery
Waiting for the Recital
All Good Things
Saffron High Street
In the West
Until We Meet Again

PART TWO

The Twelfth of July
The Fall of Icarus
The Photograph
Bankers
The Dinner
A Suitable Husband
The Ball and After

PART THREE

Catching Butterflies
Down the Rabbit Hole
In the Depths
Resurrection
The Choice

PART FOUR

Hannah''s Story
The Beginning of the End
Riverton Revisited
Slipping Out of Time
The End
The Tape
The Letter

Acknowledgments
Author''s Note

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 decades.

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 forget.

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.

Editorial Reviews

"An extraordinary debut...written with a lovely turn of phrase. [Morton] knows how to eke out tantalizing secrets and drama." -- The Sunday Telegraph (UK)

Bookclub Guide

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 her?

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?

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