Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.
Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken, and memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge, something history has forgotten but Grace never could.
Set as the war-shattered Edwardian summer surrenders to the decadent twenties, The House at Riverton is a thrilling mystery and a compelling love story.
An alternate title for this novel is The Shifting Fog.
©2006 Kate Morton; (P)2006 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I enjoy listening to great detective mysterie & also great thrillers. I enjoy books also by Vince Flynn, David Baldaci including assasins.
This is a great story. It is full of mystery and romance. The narrator makes you feel you are there. Once you start you cannot put the book down. This book enticed me to read the author's other books.
I have not read one quite like this one.
The narrator was great. She made you feel you you were there in the book somewhere. She was great.
Whoa! I LOVE this book. The story is brilliantly written and the characters really come to life. There are SO many threads and the author weaves them together beautifully in the end. The people and places really come alive while your reading, Kate Morton did such a wonderful job with her descriptive writting. I found each character to be endearing and then disappointing in their own way and in their own time as I read this book. Some coming full circle to redeem themselves again. A dark family history full of secrets and twists. A new favorite and a MUST READ!
Shorten it by decreasing the character build up.
Ended with a bigger bang. The whole story kept building and building to an anticipated crescendo, but then it just ended.
Her ability to jump between accents
Not specifically a follow-up. However if the author can deliver a better conclusion I would try another by her.
Reader Caroline Lee has a young girl's voice, so unsuited to the 98-year-old narrator of this novel that the dissonance detracts from the entire listening experience. The story itself includes all the well-loved, well-used elements of melodrama, such as the decaying great house, upstairs-downstairs, mysteries of birth (obvious from the start and why it takes the character so long to figure out, I have no idea), loves lost in World War I, crass industrialists, unhappy marriages and doomed affairs, and so on. What's not to love in all that? Unfortunately, there's very little tension to the sweep of these petty events because the story moves at glacial pace. If I cried at the end of this love story, it would be with relief that it was finally over.
this is a wonderful story covering three generations. It is complex and full of surprises, not difficult to read and absorb. It will keep you interested right to the end.
The main characters are all well drawn and the relationships unfold slowly but surely.
a great read.
The story was beautiful. I really cared about the characters and at times, felt like part of the family. The narrator was incredible...the best I have ever heard. She has a beautiful voice and does a great job with the different accents. The whole experience was a complete joy that I plan to experience again.
Learning to Love Loves Labours Lost
I don't for a minute believe that a first person narrative character with so little understanding of human behavior and basic, universal driving forces could make it through grad school, let alone become a preeminent archaeologist, a science that relies heavily on instincts for why people tend to do the things they do. How many times did I hear her say, in effect, "If only I had known that..." Yeah, honey, (I kept thinking, and even said out loud a few times), and you are the only moron on the planet who wouldn't have picked up on that. Who but a gatepost could have figured out that motive????" I've never found myself so utterly irritated by a character's basic cluelessness that I struggled with myself over whether or not to finish the book. How disappointing. This is one of those books that tells you on the first page that characters die on the last page...and why not? They're obviously too stupid to live. Fictional Darwinism at its most tedious.
A story so obvious to all but the most emotionally handicapped that I just wanted to bang my head against the wall. Truly, I do hate to offer up such a negative review, but is this all you've got, Ms. Morton? Really? This is the very best story you've got in your head???
An older actress (the lead character IS in her 90s for a big chunk of the book, after all) with a less "PEHHHHHHFECTLY" affected British accent and a bit more dexterity of characterization. She's got three voices, and I was frankly tired of each of them by the end of chapter one. A family member in another room of my house actually came in to ask me how much longer the book was, as the narrator's voice was getting on his last damned nerve. When I told him, he cranked up the Led Zeppelin and told me to call him when it was safe to come out.
Frustrated sarcasm. Bleh. "Drone, whine, whine, drone...everybody's life was just so PEHHHHHHFECTLY beastly after the war, and the rich were all so PEHHHHHHFECTLY self-centered in the '20s"...somebody just shoot me. Downton Abbey this ain't.
How I do hate stories that threaten to go someplace interesting, only to sit there with the plot construction of a first year composition student's not-very-best effort. I just want to break out a copy of The Great Gatsby and thank God fasting for F. Scott Fitzgerald.
There are so many good books in the world to read, don't waste time on the crappy ones !
I relished this book from the first line to the last! What an absolute pleasure! Three days after finishing it and the characters are still living inside my head. Its hard to settle into my next novel when everything is still so vivid and real! If you loved Downton Abbey, you'll love this. And in terms of the narrator, please don't let the detractors put you off, she was just perfect!
Friends who want an easy reading long book.
Grace. She was a professional character.
The House of Riverton is a novel set in a manor house around World War 1. We met the family through the eyes of Grace, a house maid at Riverton. Grace begins working at Riverton when she is 14. As an elderly lady, Grace tells the story of Hannah, Emmeline and Robbie Hunter. I liked this novel. It was easy to predict some of the story lines but it was a good read. I listened to the book on Audible. Sometimes it was a little disjointed because the story jumped from past to present without warning. I think it would have been easier to follow in a book.
If I am to read books of this time period again, I will stick to Edith Wharton.
Entertaining, mystery, romance
If you read Rebecca or Jane Eyre and loved them, then you will enjoy this story. The setting will remind readers of the BBC hit Downton Abby. The story line starts in current times and flashes back the early 1900's but smooth writing and a good narrator never leave you confused.
"Your headphones will be glued to your ears!"
In the genre of romantic and nostalgic love stories this book is one of the best I have ever read because it is written with much subtlety and fine nuances: we learn a great deal about the psychological interchange between the old and the young; what life was really like before and after WW I; the contrasting viewpoints of Grace, the young and Grace, the old narrator; well-drawn portraits of several servants with very differing viewpoints; striking depictions of the two sisters around whom the riveting plot develops.
Unlike in the superficial romantic love stories, there are not many happy endings in this novel. The story could really have happened. It is very life-like and full of irony.
And finally to the audio rendition by Caroline Lee: Australian twang? Yes, a little bit, but not to the extent that it would detract from the fact that she is a brilliant, sophisticated reader who draws you into the story immediately and holds your attention the whole time. I hope I'll find other books on Audible read by her.
"Enjoyable and engaging"
I really enjoyed this story, old Grace's descriptions of life in service and her relationships with those upstairs blended well with young Grace's innocence and naivety and I found the switching between past and present engaging. I cared about the outcome for old Grace just as much as I was interested in her story of the past. As the story unfolded I found I couldn't wait to plug my earphones in and listen to the next chapters. I did find the Australian narrator's attempts at the Essex accent a little bit annoying at times and I would have preferred an English narrator but not so much to distract from the story.
"Its a bit Upstairs Downstairs"
Upstairs Downstairs with an Australian twang from the narrator. I enjoyed this book, but I felt the characters lacked depth - Grace in her 90's reflects on her life as a young servant and the events that took place ......... I wanted to know the older Graces perspective on things. What in her latter years did she think about the hierarchy in which she had grown up, what did she think of the poverty, the inequality and injustice......... but the story is told 'as was' with little reflective analysis which unfortunately makes her and the other characters seem one dimensional.
"Story bogged down with superfluous detail"
I enjoyed the author's book The Secret Keeper but was very disappointed by the House at Riverton. It badly needed editing to remove the masses of details that swamp a story of upstairs/downstairs life before, during and after the First World War told in retrospect by an elderly former maid of the house at Riverton. The author has evidently done a lot of background research but unfortunately felt the need to incorporate too much of it into her narrative. For example, a conversation between two lovers has digressions into tug boats on the Thames, allusions to the coal industry and to painters of the time. I didn't need to know the detailed descriptions of decor, the clothes and hairstyle of a transient character never heard of again or learn what a person was doing with her knife and fork. I wished the author would get on with the story without all this descriptive baggage. A story that wasn't original or powerful enough to merit over 18 hours of listening.
The writing is overly descriptive: "as if" and "like" appear frequently leaving little to the listener/reader's imagination. I can imagine someone smiling without a sunbeam glancing on their cheek for emphasis. Despite a surfeit of description the characters are 2-dimensional stereotypes: obsequious servants and demanding masters.
I wouldn't have continued if I had been reading the book but I like to have a voice for company when I'm out walking or doing housework and if my mind wandered I didn't miss much.
The reader is very good and injected more life into the characters than the author.
This book has divided opinion and, to be fair more like it than dislike it, but if you prefer a story to have some pace I'd advise you to avoid this book.
Fantastically captures 30s spirit and truly unputdownable. Can't recommend enough.
"An inviting dip into the past"
A strong flowing narrative which captured and held my attention. Each day I found myself looking forward to an enjoyable and colourful escape to the past and the events before, during and after the great war. The links between past and present work well as the elderly Grace slowly reveals her story. The ending is perhaps a little predictable but doesn?t detract from a satisfying tale. And this Australian thought the Australian narrator was clear and easy to listen to.
"Titanic meets Downton"
Guilt, service, repression.
When Hannah and Robbie's re-acquaintance starts to show the strain of his wartime experience, and as a reader you realise this won't end well.
I have a couple more of her recordings and she's very good at long stretches of prose and narrative exposition, and she expresses emotion well in dialogue, although sometimes the voices she chooses for characters are a little whiny and grating (children and older men in particular). I really enjoy hearing Australian authors being recorded by an Australian narrator, and I would happily purchase audiobooks by her again, and indeed by Kate Morton.
Grace and favour
I couldn't help notice the narrative comparisons with Titanic - an elderly woman telling the story of her tragic youth, effectively from her death bed - and the way the younger characters she relates to as an old woman are not very well drawn (surely a criticism everyone levels at Titanic) but functional as devices to move the story along (Grace recording her tale on the Dictaphone for her Grandson). It is a gripping yarn, though, very well written and an absorbing depiction of early 20th century society - I had just read Testament of Youth, so the first world war period was fresh in my mind, and Hannah's relationships with her siblings as children are similar to Vera Brittain's with her friends, destined to alter tragically during the course of the war. Of course many scenes are also very reminiscent of the Downton Abbey household, and I'm sure this will have a TV mini-series of its own one day.
"Slow but pleasing"
I enjoyed the period atmosphere engendered, and even the switches from past to present. However the book was a little bit too long for its own good, and I would have preferred to learn more about Grace's life after Riverton, snatches of which were offered. The reader was pleasant and managed the characters well.
The narrator! An enjoyable story is spoiled by her woeful attempts at English accents. She isn't too bad at the upperclass voices -- though at times she seems to forget to do them altogether -- but the servants are painful to hear. Also, she pronounces the "th" in Anthony. I don't think I have ever heard this done in the UK. Surely there are some English actors in Australia who could have been used instead.
Yes, if read by someone else.
She is Australian. I very nearly gave up but the story drew me in.
"I was there in time and place"
Yes gripping and beautifully written and read
All of it fabulous emotional read
Film of the year
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