Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Report Monday: The House at Riverton

Title: The House at Riverton

Author: Kate Morton

Synopsis: In her cinematic debut novel, Kate Morton immerses readers in the dramas of the Ashbury family at their crumbling English country estate in the years surrounding World War I, an age when Edwardian civility, shaken by war, unravels into the roaring Twenties. Grace came to serve in the house as a girl. She left as a young woman, after the presumed suicide of a famous young poet at the property's lake. Though she has dutifully kept the family's secrets for decades, memories flood back in the twilight of her life when a young filmmaker comes calling with questions about how the poet really died--and why the Ashbury sisters never again spoke to each other afterward. With beautifully crafted prose, Morton methodically reveals how passion and fate transpired that night at the lake, with truly shocking results. Her final revelation at the story's close packs a satisfying (and not overly sentimental) emotional punch.

Why did I pick it up?: I am a sucker for a long story that can keep my attention for 400+ pages. I had this on my list to read for over a year, when I was in an independent bookstore and the woman there recommended it and Kate Morton's second novel, The Forgotten Garden.

Favorite Line: "It is a universal truth that no matter how well one knows a scene, to observe it from above is something of a revelation."

Likes: I loved Grace's voice. Very detailed, easy to fall into the time and place she describes.

Complaints: Parts of the story did drag, for me. I don't usually get pulled into historical settings, unless there is some character making dirty jokes or a rivetting, fast-action plot that somehow weaves in time travel or vampires. For me, certain plot twists, were apparent very early on. It was frustrating that the whole book was built around one event but I loved how the details were sprinkled teasingly leading up to the very end when you get all the facts.

Recommendation: Jennifer Donnelly fans would love this, it reminded me of her stories though Morton's characters are far more refined than the Finnegans. I would still read her second book, The Forgotten Garden, I was told it was even better than the first.

Next Week: All the Names by Jose Saramago


  1. Sounds like a lovely read. I love these sorts of long stories that can pull you in. I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of the whole story being built around one moment in time--perhaps a little like ATONEMENT? If it's done well, it can be very satisfying. Is this an adult book? I've been wanting to read adult fiction for awhile now. I miss it sometimes.

  2. Yes, it is adult and I believe very similar to Atonement, which I own but haven't read yet.

    Though I loved the movie!

    It's fasinating because by the end you know the characters so well, have known them since they were children, that the smallest gestures pack so much meaning.