Book Review: The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton

Kate Morton

Washington Square Press

496 pages

Grace Reeves leaves her mother at fourteen years old in order to go work in a local manor with a wealthy family. The year is 1914 and the system in England is still based on centuries of tradition.  Grace is part of the working class and as such, she is used to fading into the background and observing those around her without offering any reaction or emotion.  She soon becomes enamored with the children of the manor though: David, Hannah and Emeline.

The reader becomes aware right as the story starts that something clandestine has occurred at Riverton but we have to wait for the story to unfold.  Grace is now in her nineties and recounting her time at Riverton, slowly revealing what really happened.  She had become close with Hannah and Emmeline as her years in their household went on, and the two girls took on very dynamic personalities.

I loved watching Hannah and Emmeline grew up.  They sort of switched roles in my mind, as Hannah they both chose lives that I had imagined the other one living, which made it that much more interesting.  They were both realistically flawed as well, and I was able to sympathize with them at times while being irritated with them and their decisions a moment later.

Grace’s character developed a lot slower.  She was so encumbered by the role that society expected her to play that she had a hard time seeing what was in front of her.  Normally I would be annoyed that I realized exactly what was happening before she did and I’ll admit, there was a time or two I wanted to shake some sense into her, but it was painfully obvious that she was just a well intentioned, naive girl that was tied down by an antiquated society.

I was unsure of whether I would read anything else by Morton after I finished The Forgotten Garden.  It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but something about it felt a little forced and I definitely didn’t have the WOW reaction that I felt a lot of other bloggers seemed to have.  I am glad I got over that thought because I thought The House at Riverton was fantastic.  Another perfect choice for RIP.  I am on a roll!

Other Reviews:

Caribous Mom

That’s What She Read

Linus’s Blanket

S Krishna’s Books

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble.

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16 Responses

  1. This was my first selection of Kate Morton’s work and I also really enjoyed it. I also downloaded the audiobook for The Distant Hours and liked that one as well. I haven’t read The Forgotten Garden, but perhaps I might take a bit of time before picking that one up 🙂

  2. I have only read The Distant Hours by this author but I did enjoy it. It was not a fast read for me but it was good. I’ll have to add this book to my tbr list.

  3. Oh good, because I was mourning the fact that my library does not have The Forgotten Garden on audio (which is the only way for me to get through Morton’s books). I’ve read this one and The Distant Hours, and I really enjoyed both of them. They are so gothic and rich in detail! My one complaint would be that Morton sure takes her time to weave her yarn. Both of the audios felt like they could have been a few discs shorter than they were.

  4. I thought this was good, but not amazing. I’m still undecided about whether or not to try her other books – like you I’m missing that WOW factor to motivate me 😦

  5. Well I’ve got all of her books but havent read any of them yet. I’ve heard some good and some bad things but I’m still looking forward to trying them one of these days.

  6. Amazon is always telling me I will love Kate Morton’s books, but I hadn’t really heard anything about her so I have generally just ignored that recommendation. Then I started to read stuff about Morton, but many people seemed to have that “meh” reaction you describe about The Forgotten Garden, and a lot of people seem to think that her books could do with some editing. I guess that if I decide to try something by Morton I will skip The Forgotten Garden and perhaps try this one instead.

  7. this doesn’t sound like my kind of thing so… i will probably skip it. hope your next read treats you better!

  8. I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden, but like you didn’t get the wow factor from it. I keep looking at The House at Riverton and wondering about picking it up. Probably will now – but it’s not going to the top of my to be read list.

  9. I added this author to my “to read” list after seeing so many bloggers gushing about her books. I can’t remember if I have this one or her other one waiting patiently to be read.

  10. I want to give this one a try. I really loved The Forgotten Garden. I also have The Distant Hours to read.

  11. I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden on audio, but didn’t love it. I plan to read The House at Riverton… glad you liked it!

  12. I really wanted to read this before the month was out, but I think I am running out of time. One day I will get to it!

  13. Loved your review and your thoughts — I got this in a swap earlier in the month — I’m going to try to read it in Oct for the RIP challenge!

  14. I read this a while back and felt very much like you – I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t hands down brilliant. That being said, I do own a copy of The Distant Hours and I look forward to reading it when the time is right.

  15. I actually liked The Forgotten Garden more than this one. I’m really interested to see where The Distant Hours falls. I have it in my stacks and will hopefully get to it next year!

  16. This looks like one for my tbr list

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