The Bottom Line
- Morton paints a vivid picture of life and the changing class structure in England circa WWI
- There is a compelling voice throughout the story
- The ending is satisfying, if not entirely surprising
- Some of the dialogue wasn't believable
- The mystery did not always feel big enough to drive the story
- A filmmaker contacts Grace, who is in a nursing home, to review a movie she is making about the suicide of a poet at Riverton
- The memories of Grace's time as a servant flood back, including a secret about the suicide that has haunted her for years
- Grace tells the story of her years of service
- 'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton was first published in the U.S.A by Atria in April 2008
Guide Review - 'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton - Book Review
From the beginning of the novel, the reader knows that Grace has a secret, and that the secret is somehow related to the suicide of the famous poet, R.S. Hunter. Grace tells her secret slowly, remembering her time at Riverton and her relationship with the sisters there, Hannah and Emmeline. My biggest critique of the novel is that at times the telling feels too drawn out -- I doubted the secret could actually be weighty enough for the build up since there are only so many possible explanations for how Hunter dies. Indeed, it isn't the climax that ultimately makes the ending satisfying, but all the small secrets that radiate from the larger one, and the way different characters come together through these.
My other critique is that Morton does not make clear that Grace and Hannah had a close relationship. Their bond is important to the plot, but it was not one I believed from the action or dialogue.
Despite these flaws, The House at Riverton still held my attention and made me want to keep reading to the end. I wouldn't categorize it as a great novel, but it is definitely more entertaining than many other books that sell and much of what is on TV.