The House at Riverton

I’ve wanted to get back to Kate Morton’s books for a while. After the pile of thrillers I’ve gone through, I was ready for something with intrigue and drama. The House at Riverton was the perfect book.

Grace Bradley is nearing the end of her life when she’s invited by a movie director to visit the set at Riverton House, the same manor where Grace lived at worked as a young girl. Grace was close in age to Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, and throughout her years working in the house, and finally as Hannah’s lady’s maid, Grace becomes almost like a sister and confidant. As Grace uncovers her connection with the Hartford family, she finds herself tangled up in the lives of the sisters, helping to keep their secrets and protect the social front they present.

But when a young poet associated with the sisters is shot at a summer party, only the three women know the truth. And it’s a secret Grace is prepared to carry with her to the grave.

Kate Morton writes in such an easy-to-read way. You slip right into the story, walking the gardens and hallways with the characters, invested in their lives and desperate to learn their secrets. And while some of the secrets Morton reveals are easy to see coming, the way the characters respond, what they choose to do with the knowledge, is often less easy to anticipate, and that just adds another layer to the intrigue.

I wasn’t prepared for how The House at Riverton ended. While everything is neatly wrapped up, you find yourself wondering, as Grace certainly does as well, how things might have changed had she made different choices. Morton leads you right along to the climax of the story, right at the very end. I expected a chapter or two of aftermath, even though I knew Morton had already shown us what happened after. It’s the kind of book where you sit and process the storyline once you’ve finished, arranging the pieces into order to get the whole picture in one glance. And if that sounds confusing and like the story’s out of order, it’s not. It’s told from the point of view of a 90-something year old woman. Sometimes they tell the story a little out of order, but it all makes sense in the end.

Morton does an excellent job of transporting readers back in time to the early 1900s, creating realistic characters who deal with all that comes in the early decades of the century.

I’m trying hard not to visit any more used book sales for the time being, but you can be sure that if I do, I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything by Kate Morton.

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