Liked It4 of 5 members found this review helpful
“I love this book. I do feel like I'm giving away my pedestrian, bestseller-loving taste in saying so, but I found it absolutely satisfying. Good on you Kate! If any of my so-called friends want to do me a service, read this book so I can stop stalking the Amazon reviewers. ("But I thought we...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It2 of 2 members found this review helpful
“In her author's notes, writer Kate Morton freely acknowledges the influence of authors Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, Daphne DuMaurier, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Arlen, Noel Coward, and H.V. Morton, as well as Robert Altman's film "Gosford Park." If you like any of those, chances are good you'll...”see full review » see other reviews »
“The House at Riverton by Kate Morton is set in England from 1914 to 1999. It’s a saga of the heyday and subsequent decline of the English Country House, as well as a gothic mystery with a tragic secret. The story is narrated by Grace Bradley, who served at Riverton Manor, and kept the secret until her deathbed. Fans of the Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs television series will love this saga!
Grace Bradley at age 98 is asked to participate as an expert consultant with a film being produced about Riverton Manor and its tragedy. The memories come flooding back to Grace, who has successfully suppressed them for decades. As her life comes to an end, she dictates her memories and confesses the secret, in hopes her grandson will cherish the story.
The book skillfully weaves the past and present, telling the story of young housemaid Grace who began her life of service at age 14, in Riverton where her mother had served before her. The reader quickly figures out the identity of Grace’s father and the reason her mother left service, long before Grace does.
Young Grace longs for the camaraderie of siblings that she observes between the Hartford children: Hannah, Emmeline and David. As a servant in the background she is virtually invisible to the family, all the better to observe their relationships. Grace is high on a balcony dusting the library’s 9000 books when she witnesses a pivotal scene between the Hartfords and their friend Robbie.
Grace forms lifelong friendships with the rest of the servants ‘downstairs’: Mrs. Townsend the cook, Katie the scullery maid, Mr. Hamilton the butler, Nancy the ladies’ maid, Alfred the footman. The servants at Riverton are bound together with kindness and loyalty to serve the ‘upstairs’ family.
World War I permanently changes everyone’s life, as it triggers the end of the opulent English Country House era. Individuals begin to think outside their traditional roles, as they serve their country from the smallest local volunteer duties up to the ultimate sacrifice. Shell-shocked survivors find it impossible to re-integrate into their previous roles.
Never fear the author has overly romanticized the lives of servants by portraying the loving and cohesive servants at Riverton. When Hannah marries and moves to London, Grace is elevated to ladies maid, and finds herself in a much different servant environment than Riverton. The servants in the new household are encouraged to spy and tattle upon one another.
Grace is many times torn between the desire to find her own happiness, and duty to Hannah. She chooses duty. What a different story this might have been otherwise!
With heavy foreshadowing throughout the book, I was sure I had guessed the tragic secret – but I didn’t. The story’s conclusion comes swiftly and ties many relationships together – I slowed down my reading to savor it.
The author’s note describes her extensive research of the socio-historic period, including gothic novels. As I read The House at Riverton, I felt there were many parallels to Downton Abbey’s subplots; now I see they both are based on a wealth of information on English Country Houses and Edwardian society. The book is long – 468 pages – but never drags; I wish it had gone on longer, and explored the happiness Grace found later in life as an archaeologist.”
“Not really my type of book … the Downtown Abbey "genre". Loved the ending … their is a kind of twist.”Diane L wrote this review Wednesday, November 13, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Somewhat slow until the last quarter of the book. I've enjoyed her other books a bit more than this one.”Marcie T wrote this review Friday, November 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is another novel that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time that I’ve been wanting to read. It was kind of an “Upstairs, Downstairs” kind of thing. (Or, I guess, to be more current, a “Downton Abbey” kind of thing.) It concerned both servants and “masters” of a townhouse in London. Since I enjoyed Morton’s “The Forgotten Garden,” I thought I’d like this too. I really did but it was a bit too long for me. I really thought it could have had less pages and been tightened up a bit. However, it was very, very good.”Kat M wrote this review Wednesday, October 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“cautivating”Rosa Santorroman-I Diamond YOU wrote this review Thursday, October 17, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Since I enjoyed The Secret Keeper, I realized I needed to read more by Kate Morton. This was another great story. I pictured myself in Downton Abbey (although she pictured Upstairs, Downstairs while writing it). It's the story of an elderly woman looking back at her life and secrets kept while a house maid in an English manor house.”Nancy wrote this review Wednesday, October 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“chewed on slowly over the weekend, got better as the pages turned, right till the very end, one of those great works, that leaves you wanting more. "M" Author”Robyn C wrote this review Monday, September 30, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I enjoyed reading this book.”Nancy Roe wrote this review Sunday, September 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“On Amazon Wish List”Romantic @ Heart wrote this review Tuesday, September 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“LOVED this! it has the flavor of Downton Abbey. the story is set in the 1920's and told by Grace, Hannahs lady maid for years. Grace is 98 years old, a movie of her life at the House of Riverton is being made into a movie and she is wanted to help make the movie actual. I really like Kate Mortons writing.”rhonda g wrote this review Saturday, August 31, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No