Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lisa's Review: The House At Riverton


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. ~ B&N

The House at Riverton is a house full of secrets. Some big, some small - all with devastating consequences. At 98, Grace Bradley has finally decided to share the secrets she'd been keeping for over 70 years, when a filmmaker comes to her to provide insight into the lives of the two sisters she served in her youth.

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.

I strongly recommend that you pick this one up on April 22.

Final Take: 4.5/5


Julie P. January 30, 2008 at 3:08 PM  

I loved this book! I can't wait until it comes out and everyone can talk about it! Usually I'm reading a book with half a thought as to what I will read next, but I have to admit I was sad for it to end.

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