The House At Riverton is Kate Morton’s debut novel, a novel who captures spectacularly the writer’s excellency in storytelling.
“I sound contemptuous, but I am not. I am interested–intrigued even–by the way time erases real lives, leaving only vague imprints. Blood and spirit fade away so that only names and dates remain.”
This heartbreaking story goes back to the 1900’s, from the WWI to the glorious 1920’s! Like any other Edwardian set book, my dearest readers it’s full of heavy political talks at dinners, heartwarming goodbyes to young soldiers, depressing marriages long plotted for financial stability and of course, SUFFRAGETTES! An area very beloved by me and certainly by some of you as well.
A manor house in Essex holds this very tragic tale, a tale who literary tore apart a legacy and a family. This story comes to light in the big screen nearly a century later, with our narrator, Grace Bradley, the only living person who knows how wrongly has been Riverton’s tale being told. At the age of 90, she is forced to revisit the past and everything (or better everyone) she thought she could live behind trough the filming of it.
Grace’s story begins when she gets a job as a housemaid at Riverton. A teenage girl, passionate about Sherlock Holmes and detectives stories comes to meet a house, a family with its own long hidden secrets and mysteries that she would take long time to finally solve. One way or another she becomes uniquely attached to the Hartfords and most especially the Hartford siblings, a definitely unique pair of siblings.
An extraordinary layer of secrecy and bonding lays upon these siblings, (David being the oldest, Hannah the middle and Emmeline the youngest), one that Grace witnesses from the very beginning and finally takes part in! Within this layer long hidden secrets come to the light, new secrets are struggling to be kept and a monstrous tale holds the Hartfords’ ruins!
Kate Morton has done a wonderful work with her characters and the plot. That being said some of the secrets were pretty obvious but that surely didn’t take the very magic of reading the character’s final reaction to them. She captures really well the tragic-ness of that area, along with its romanticism. Hugely groundbreaking philosophies did show up to my great pleasure; sex equality being a topic on the aristocratic tables, working class showing its dissatisfaction and finally standing for their opinions (of course only some of the lot), and CARS-CARS-CARS! -not so philosophical but I had to mention it-
Personal favourites were as it is expected of a lady like me (aka. sensitive-hopelessly romantic), Mr. Frederick (Bard, knows how I cried during his appearances) as well as Grace’s grandson!
This is a book I hold very near to my heart, a very special one. It filled a good portion of the gap that Downton Abbey left me with for this past year. It’s not a literature masterpiece, it’s not Dostoevsky or Homer but it is a superb literate travel worth crying for and thinking about for years.
A story worth reading and loving.