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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
In 1914, when she was 14, Grace came to Riverton Manor as a housemaid. There she met the Master's grandchildren, David, Hannah, and Emmeline, whose lives would forever be linked with her own. Now at the age of 98, Grace looks back at those early years of duty and service, selflessness and silence, and narrates her story while there is still time.

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Published on March 17 2008 by Kona

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bulk of traversing 90 years.
This saga threaded together innumerable intricacies. I warn antsy readers, patience is a must. This story isn’t linear. We veer from 98 year-0ld <i>Grace</i>, who led an extraordinary life, to the origins of the important people in it. It’s abundantly clear that one event cataclysmically scattered the directions of their lives. A director...
Published 1 month ago by Carolyn


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, March 17 2008
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
In 1914, when she was 14, Grace came to Riverton Manor as a housemaid. There she met the Master's grandchildren, David, Hannah, and Emmeline, whose lives would forever be linked with her own. Now at the age of 98, Grace looks back at those early years of duty and service, selflessness and silence, and narrates her story while there is still time.

To give away more of the plot would be to rob other readers of the sublime delight I found in reading this book. It is told through the eyes of an old lady who has known great sorrow and some joys. She paints a vivid picture of life among the idle country rich before and after the first War, how carefree children became conflicted adults, and how passion erupted in gunfire amid the fireworks of a grand summer party.

The author has written such a wonderful story and I loved being a part of it. I sobbed through the last chapters knowing the story had to end, knowing what that end would be. I could identify with young Grace as she stoically tended to her spoiled mistress and felt I was holding old Grace's hand as she lay in her bed at the nursing home. This book MUST be made into a movie - it is powerful, dramatic, and heartbreaking, equal parts of mystery, romance, and history - the best book I've read in years.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Aug. 25 2009
This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
I signed this book out of the library after reading, and thoroughly enjoying, the forgotten Garden. This book far surpassed my expectations and I loved it even more than the forgotten Garden (which has been passed around my family now and is a favourite for everyone). The character development was very well done and almost right to the end I did not suspect what the end would be.

Unlike the other reviewer I enjoyed the time shifting as it really helped to develop the main character in a way that wouldn't have happened otherwise. The decisions she made in the 'past' would not have made sense to me if it did not go along with her current narration.

I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The final thread that tethered me has released", July 11 2010
By 
Linda Bulger (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm probably the last reader on the planet to pick up The House at Riverton: A Novel, and I don't know why I denied myself the pleasure for so long. This debut novel by Australian Kate Morton was released first in Australia and was already a #1 seller and award-winner in the U.K. before its 2008 release in the U.S. It's a big modern Gothic, ranging over more than eight decades but cleverly contained within the story structure of a first-person narrative.

Grace Bradley, 98 years old and residing in a nursing home, is contacted by a young film-maker producing a film about the 1924 suicide of a young poet. The poet took his life at Riverton, the country manor where Grace was a ladies' maid, and since Grace is the only living person to have known the poet and the family at Riverton, the film-maker wants to interview her.

So begins a retrospective view of Grace's life at Riverton, where she went into service in 1914 at the age of fourteen. The elderly Grace is in the process of recording the details of her life at Riverton for her grandson, a novelist. The book moves back and forth between Grace's first-person accounts and her life in the nursing home as the movie progresses.

The author deftly handles the First World War combat of the poet and his friend, a young man from the Riverton house; she presents as vivid a picture as I've seen in a novel of the fear and isolation in the trenches and the war-torn French countryside. Out of this experience flows the "shell shock" of the young poet, making the wartime scenes a contributing cause of his death. However, there were secrets, and it's clear throughout the book that Grace knows them--Grace alone, now, after all these years.

Fortunately, the book doesn't rest entirely on the secrets of Riverton, because in the end they're not so surprising. But the marvelous "Upstairs, Downstairs" feel of the book is pure delight, and the fact that it's framed with a modern story adds to the feeling that we're looking into a stereoscope at old photos. When the film-maker takes Grace to visit the site of Riverton, where it all happened so long ago, the veil between past and present shifts for her as the old secrets want to be told.

Kate Morton's second novel, The Forgotten Garden: A Novel, was just as beautifully crafted as this debut; and we eagerly await her next offering. If you haven't read "Riverton" and "The Forgotten Garden," it's never too late; they are timeless.

Linda Bulger, 2010
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars would have given it five stars except for one thing, June 8 2010
By 
Anna Black (Regina, SK CANADA) - See all my reviews
I read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden and it was so good, I simply had to read the first book she wrote, The House at Riverton. I was not disappointed. It took me about 100 pages to really feel pulled into the story but that's not uncommon with large tales that span a lifetime. A 90 year old woman's memories just prior to her death, span her servitude from the age of 14 to approximately 28, to the aristocratic family living at the house of Riverton. The story shows the incredible sense of duty and loyalty servants were bred to give their masters/mistresses and their children. It's a tragedy set in a socio-historical period when women weren't encouraged to read, have opinions or be intelligent. Repressed emotion and unfulfilled dreams were the order of the day. One could say this period of history around WWI was the antithesis to self-actualization. What a sad state of affairs. I have to say the most fascinating aspect of this novel was the period in which it was set. Morton paints a picture of what life was like for the servants and the leisure class, revealing both to have unfulfilled lives based on society's rigid expectations. Aristocracy was all about safe-guarding the family name and inheritance, while servants were to act like shadows to those they waited upon, guessing their every need while denying their own. Who can be happy in that picture? You guessed it. The stage is set for tragedy upon tragedy. I found I did not care for the characters the way I wanted to. The hero of the novel, for me, turned out to be Alfred, a soldier returned from war who has the courage to break free from servitude and build a life of his own. The women were sad products of their time, struggling to live true to their needs, desires and dreams, but not quite getting there. I would say Grace moved on solely by virtue of circumstance, not inner resolve. My other criticism is the character of Frederick is most annoying. We never quite understand why he is so silly with his children. Not talking to them because he didn't care for their decisions only rendered him selfish in my eyes. Moping about the grounds day after day almost turned him into a sort of comedic character who I hoped would just go away. It was impossible for me to feel empathy for him. Sure he was in his late brother's shadow and his business failed. I guess the moral of that story is, he who has no freedom to be who he is, cultivates no inner resources?

However, overall, the story is magnificently told, and if you read The Forgotten Garden, you will see in both books, Kate Morton is a fabulous writer. Nuances dot her story lines as she mirrors Grace's motivations and choices to that of Hannah's, and the house at Riverton's deterioration and later false portrayal through tourism, to society's desolation and then drunken gaiety after WWI. I couldn't put the book down. And I thought about it afterwards. That's always a very good sign. I also hope this becomes a movie. More than once, I felt very thankful for being a woman in 2010 !!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, April 29 2009
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This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
I purchased this book as it was recommended to me by Amazon, due to the fact I had purchased, "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. I would say it was a wonderful recommendation! I was hooked immediately. Although I am not a huge fan of story lines that switch back and forth between the present and the past, Kate Morton did a really great job of doing this and I found I didn't mind it at all. The story flowed well. I enjoyed this book so much, I am planning on buying the next book Kate Morton has recently released...I just have to wait until the price goes down a bit!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bulk of traversing 90 years., Nov. 8 2014
By 
Carolyn (Manitoba) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
This saga threaded together innumerable intricacies. I warn antsy readers, patience is a must. This story isn’t linear. We veer from 98 year-0ld <i>Grace</i>, who led an extraordinary life, to the origins of the important people in it. It’s abundantly clear that one event cataclysmically scattered the directions of their lives. A director <i>Grace</i> befriends is covering a mysterious death in a film. <i>Grace</i> derives closure from revisiting “<b>Riverton</b>” and being <i>Ursula’s</i> consultant but nothing is blurted. The principal circumstances simmer, for <b>Kate Morton</b> wants us to understand all of the cast members first.

I admire what she accomplished more than three stars look. She’s an Australian who knows England. The 1880s conclude in dizzying societal change. War affected enlisters as much as their families and technology exploded; basics like telephones and bathrooms. Shifts in expectations were conveyed astutely through sisters <i>Hannah</i>, who wanted a career and <i>Emmeline</i>, a partier reared with upper crust propriety. Errors that eroded enjoyment were: punctuating queries with <i>“said”</i> instead of <i>“asked”</i> and every page containing <i>“shook their head”</i>; excessively!

Everyone is memorable because I understand them intimately but I feel the bulk of traversing 90 years. A sampling of significant periods would be ample, with detailing reserved for key scenes. Much background flavour could be omitted. It’s ludicrous to announce that <i>Alfred</i> reunited with <i>Grace</i> in their sixties but to only give this joyous news one sentence! I would prefer seeing that moment. I couldn’t imagine <i>Grace</i> not telling <i>Hannah</i> she wanted to marry him. Notably, far too much hinged on not correcting <i>Hannah</i> on the street when they were fifteen. She thought <i>Grace</i> had visited a nearby secretarial school. It’s nonsense to not tell <i>Ursula</i> she’s related to someone special. I’m certain her Grandson will, after he has heard his Grandma’s cassette tapes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars summary, Jan. 7 2013
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This review is from: THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON (Paperback)
I loved the writing of Kate Morton. She is such a great story teller..After you read one of her books you will want to read the others...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, but not as good as The Forgotten Garden, Dec 3 2011
This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was not quite as enthralling as The Forgotten Garden, but it was still a page-turner and Kate Morton did a great job of developing her characters. I enjoy how her stories take the reader back in time and really make you feel for the characters and want to know more about what has happened/is happening to them. Great story!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted suspense, Aug. 3 2011
By 
Sverre Svendsen "Uni" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
Kate Morton did her research before writing this book, and it shows. She succinctly portrays aristocratic English life during WWI and the twenties. An underlying theme is the emergence of increasing courage by women to break the shackles of subservience to their station as defined by the patriarchy and social convention. Perhaps being reined by such a strong female, Queen Victoria, for the latter half of the nineteenth century did have leave an imprint on the twentieth as to what women could accomplish. But after her death, although women continued to admire the Queen's strength, society had grown weary of the staid, repressive, conservative mores and kow-towing to the establishment.

The main characters in the book form a soul triptych: Hannah, an intelligent, pensive, reflective adventurer; her sister Emmerline, a free-spirited, rebellious non-conformist; and Grace, the narrator, a shy, servile girl loyal to her masters, an observer forever yearning for acceptance by others. Robbie, a poet, being burdened by emotional wreckage from the war, inserts himself indelibly into these characters' lives.

This work may be one of a few novels from the first decade of the 21st century that will still be read a hundred years from now. It has a classical style and powerful conclusion, but it can't quite measure up to du Maurier. Morton has a wonderful skill with phrases and her characterizations are intriguing. The narrative by Grace, towards the end of her life, alternates with her descriptive memories from the past, which she tapes for Marcus, her grandson. I did find the jumping back and forth somewhat annoying, especially when the two scenarios occur within one paragraph. All readers are familiar with the literary device of foreshadowing. Morton goes beyond that and uses teasers or spoilers that clearly state what will be occurring later in the book. Whenever this occurs it is somewhat disconcerting for readers but the suspense then revolves around "how does it get to that point?" The climax is reached at the very end (do not peek) and will no doubt establish the book to become a contender for deserved recognition in the mystery/suspense genre.

This book is not riveting from the start so it takes patience to get to its second half. There is romance and passion in this book but not the types that will endear romantics. Really, this story is rather joyless, so it shouldn't be pursued to explore emotions of felicity and gladness.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Upstairs Downstairs with Nothing In Between, Oct. 9 2010
By 
caseygirl (Vancouver Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The House at Riverton: A Novel (Paperback)
This book was highly recommended to me by someone who enjoys the same types of books I like. I bought it right away before I read any of the reviews by readers. I found the book primarily boring. Absolutely nothing happens until you are about two thirds through a 468 page book. I felt like one of the other reviwers who nearly cast it aside after about 100 pages. I had to work at reading 80% of this book. Kept telling myself, surely something is going to happen soon. The alternating between present and past interested me and I think that kept me reading. But the trivial menial tasks of the "downstairs" staff was boring. I didn't find the characters that well developed or believable, only possibly Grace. I found the description of the Game the children played at the start of the book completely unnecessary to the story despite the fact it came in to play at the very end again. I pretty well guessed most of the story line with the exception of the very end which I had pretty well figured out but missed it a bit. Don't want to elaborate or it will present a spoiler for others. I found Grace's complete loyalty to Hannah to the point of putting her own life entirely on hold, a bit unbelievable. This could have been expounded on more to make it more interesting. Alfred didn't play a big enough role for my liking.Overall I didn't care for this book. I will read the next one by this author because I bought it when I bought The House at Riverton. I really trusted the recommendation I had so I hope this next one is a lot better.
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The House at Riverton: A Novel
The House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate Morton (Paperback - March 3 2009)
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