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

4.4 out of 5 rating. 20 Reviews
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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, 3.25 × 2.09 × 0.51 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

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– More About This Product –

The House at Riverton: A Novel

by Kate Morton

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 496 pages, 3.25 × 2.09 × 0.51 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

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''re too late." She pointed at my hands. "You''re to
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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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