[Review] The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Title: The House at Riverton: A Novel
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: Contemporary/Historical Fiction
Subject: Romantic Suspense, Country Homes - England, Great Britain - Social Life and Customs (1918 - 1945)
Page: 599 pages
First Published: 2006

Old and repressed memories came back to life for ninety-eight year old Grace Bradley when she was approached by a young director wanting to film about a poet’s suicide at the time she became a housemaid at Riverton Manor. Thus began series of flashbacks and reminiscence from the time Grace came to Riverton Manor as a fourteen year old girl to her acquaintance with sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford to the fateful night of the poet’s suicide some 70 years ago.

To me, this book has the right ingredients for compelling fiction, a mixture of gothic mystery, high drama and love triangle set in the Edwardian period prior to and after the First World War in England.

But while the premise of the book is compelling, the execution is not. I feel that the story dragged a little bit and found myself losing interest at times. The synopsis keeps you anticipating the part concerning the suicide but when it finally comes the excitement has long sizzled down by then.  And the fact that the incident was mentioned only in the last few chapters did not give the readers much time to digest the information, left something to be desired. I would have liked this book better if I had not read Kate Morton’s later novel, The Forgotten Garden.

Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable read, especially during those lazy weekends. I give this book 3 Flowers for these beautiful words …

“The girl in the mirror caught my eye briefly, and I thought what a serious face she had. It is an uncanny feeling, that rare occasion when one catches a glimpse of oneself in repose. An unguarded moment, stripped of artifice, when one forgets to fool even oneself.”

“There is a point in most stories from which there is no return. When all the central characters have made their way onstage and the scene is set for the drama to unfold. The storyteller relinquishes control and the characters begin to move of their own accord.”


I have picked this book up a few times in the library but never actually checked it out. After your review I'm kind of glad.

'Leo the African' isn't a 'big' book in terms of size or readability but it does assume that you know a little bit about the history of the time. I only know a tiny bit and was able to follow everything well, so I would definitely recommend it.
I read this book as well (2010) and liked it, but did not love it.
Julie said…
I have read that this one moves slowly, but I think that maybe Morton's works are meant to be savored a bit. This one IS definitely on my list! Thanks for the review!
Julie: I thought that much. How do you like The Distant Hours. I read The Forgotten Garden last year and enjoyed it tremendously.
Anonymous said…
The distant hours were a disappointment, the house at riverton ok but the hidden garden is lovely my favourite so far of Kate's books ;o)
Anonymous said…
Sorry that was supposed to read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, :oS
bumblesby said…
I just finished this book and have not, as yet, read any other of Ms. Morton's books. I found the book a "heavy" read - it had this sadness or melancholy running throughout. For me it made it a difficult read. I did enjoy the story though.