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The Shifting Fog

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  80,366 Ratings  ·  7,057 Reviews
The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of "Downton Abbey," it's the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romant
Paperback, 480 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Allen & Unwin (first published 2006)
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Charla Gatz Johnston The father of Grace's daughter is a man named John, whom Grace discusses with Ursula, the filmmaker, on pp. 180-84 of the hardcover. She tells Ursula…moreThe father of Grace's daughter is a man named John, whom Grace discusses with Ursula, the filmmaker, on pp. 180-84 of the hardcover. She tells Ursula he was a public servant and that they never should've been married.
"John was a terrific waltzer and a terrific lover, but not much of a husband. I dare say I wasn't much of a wife, either. I'd never intended to marry, you see. I wasn't at all prepared."
She goes on to say she met him at a dance club and four months later ended up pregnant so they married.
She says, "That's the way things were done back then. Lucky for us war intervened and we were spared the charade."
Grace tells Ursula that John enlisted and she went to work in a field hospital in France. And that during the four years they were away, Ruth was cared for by an elderly Anglican minister and his wife.
Later in the conversation, Ursula asks if John was killed in the war.
"No," I said. "No, he wasn't. But our marriage was."
Her gaze drifted once more to my wedding photo.
"We divorced when he returned to London. Times had changed by then. Everyone had seen and done so much. It seemed rather pointless to remain joined to a spouse one didn't care for. He moved to America and married the sister of a GI he'd met in France. Poor fellow; he was killed soon after in a road accident."
She shook her head. "I'm sorry . . ."
"Don't be. Not on my account. It was so long ago. I barely remember him, you know. Odd snatches of memory, more like dreams. It's Ruth who misses him. She's never forgiven me."
And that's the story of John!(less)
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Community Reviews

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I probably would have enjoyed Kate Morton's debut novel The House at Riverton more if I had not already experienced the greater expression of her writing talent in The Forgotten Garden. Riverton shares many of the themes of her later work, but with the narrator at a greater remove from the focus of the story, it tends to make her characterizations a bit flat. The story of the Hartford family, focused on the sisters Hannah and Emmeline is told by Grace, a servant to the family for many years. Her ...more
Dec 15, 2008 Hope rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable story and a beautiful historical setting marred by clumsy story telling, overbearing foreshadowing, and an emotional disconnect with characters.
Jul 19, 2007 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like mysteries and books where family secrets are revealed
The House at Riverton tells the story of a Manor House in Essex during WW1 and the beginning of the 1920s, told from the perspective of a housemaid, now 98 and living in an old people's home in 1999. When she finds out that a film is being made of a tragic event at the house - the suicide of a young poet who fought in the war - she recounts her memories leading up to that night, and the part she played in it.
Of course, the story is not as simple as that, and many secrets have been kept for almos
Dec 18, 2008 JoLee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I wanted to read this book because it looked as if it had a lot of elements I really enjoy: Gothic type mystery, haunted house, family secrets, World War I, the 1920s. The book concerns sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, aristocratic children who grow up over the course of the book. They chafe at the constraints of their class and find themselves floundering in the chaos of the 1920s. The other main character in the book is the narrator Grace, a housemaid at Riverton. She has her own unique c ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Sandie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical novels devotees
This book is a must read for lovers of historical novels and enthralling, well-written, atmospheric mysteries, The House at Riverton is a literary feast for those who love writers like Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan or Daphne DuMaurier and books reminiscent of The Forsythe Saga, Upstairs,Downstairs and Water for Elephants.

In this page-turner of a novel, beautifully written and evocative of the era in England prior to and after World War 1, the author succeeds in weaving a complex tale of passion,
Aug 23, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this. High drama and love triangles at the country estate of a rich family during the Edwardian era -- all ending in the famous suicide on the family estate of a post-war poet. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, it could feel like a cobbled-together collection of Upstairs-Downstairs stereotypes, played-out female character archetypes, and plot twists and sub-plots that, after lots of set-up, amount to very little. Also, the book is told in flashbacks, and there were str ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good historical read, it has a double story going on for the main character. I liked the good ending.
Mar 16, 2009 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-seller, mystery
I had such high hopes! Our heroine, Grace, now a feisty but failing 98, spent her early life at Riverton House in the service of the Ashbury family...and then spent her adult life trying to forget about them. However, she's contacted by a filmmaker about the mysterious suicide of a World War I poet that occurred at the estate back in 1924. Is the set of the Riverton drawing room accurate? What was it like being a housemaid? Does Grace have any insight into the circumstances of the suicide? Why d ...more
Franco  Santos
Jul 13, 2014 Franco Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me gustó muchísimo este libro. Amo el estilo de escritura de Kate Morton, y en este se lo puede apreciar al máximo.

Las fotografías nos obligan a contemplar a las personas antes de que su destino las abrume, antes de que conozcan su final.

La historia empieza un poco lenta; me costó engancharme. En algunas partes también se me hizo un poco pesado. Sin embargo, la prosa, el marco y los personajes me hicieron mantenerme sumergido en las páginas hasta altas horas de la madrugada.

A partir de la segu
Un té con Ceres
Aug 10, 2016 Un té con Ceres rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
¡Me ha encantado!, es de esos libros que te dejan un buen sabor de boca y que ha merecido la pena leer. No cuesta leerlo pero sí engancharse. Al principio trata de contar como empezó todo para entender la historia y eso quizás sea más lento, pero enseguida te enganchas a la trama y ahí ya no puedes parar.
I liked the idea of this book but thought it was sloppily thought out and executed. (Stop reading here if you haven't read this book yet as spoilers follow.) I mean, really, Hannah couldn't throw the gun in the lake rather than shooting her lover? Grace couldn't tell Hannah that she didn't know shorthand and got someone else to tell her what the first note said? And why did Hannah think Grace knew shorthand, anyway? She put a lot of work into learning it herself . . . I don't recall her ever tea ...more
Bridget Vollmer
Seriously this story killed me. Kate Morton writes such beautifully tragic stories. They move at a slower pace but ending is so worth it. I'm just going to take a moment to shed some tears and process this story.


Love listening to this on audio, I feel like I should be drinking some tea and eating cookies.
Cheers mate!

Mary Beth
Mar 13, 2015 Mary Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and Wow! The ending was so shocking!! I was not expecting it! There were so many secrets in this book which made it very suspenseful! I just loved the characters, Hannah was very mysterious and Emmeline was very wild! Grace is a maid and she doesn't want to tell her story about The House at Riverton which is a film and they try to get information from her about her stay!

There was a lot of deaths in this book, but of course there is going to be when Grace who is 98 tel
Libro con muy buena narrativa pero que entretiene lo justo. Es la suma de pasajes de la vida de la protagonista en su juventud, que a través de recuerdos que van siendo gatillados por distintas situaciones, van dando forma a la trama de la novela.

El libro no está mal, pero hay aspectos que no me gustaron mucho, como el hecho de que el principal suceso de la novela, anunciado incluso en su contraportada, apenas ocupa las últimas páginas del libro, y uno llega a él un poco cansado de tantos recue
3.5 Wonderfully written, and perfectly set. A very english book. It had more passive drama than I would've wanted but it is a perfectly enjoyable read, Morton has a lot of talent and a beautiful style. I highlighted so many quotes, I won't even count them. Special for those with a taste of light mistery and sweet characters. Can't round the rate up to four because there are some twists any human can see coming.

La casa de Riverton cuenta la historia de porque ocurrió el suicidio del poeta Robbie
Jan 23, 2017 Noel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had been excited to try a Kate Morton book for quite some time. I'd been so sure she'd be an author I love that I had already purchased four of her books. So it is with regret that I write this review. Sigh.

I loved Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. And I like Downton Abbey. So The House at Riverton seemed like a sure bet. It actually did feel almost like a mashup of The Remains of the Day, and Downton Abbey, but Riverton was lacking the things that make them great. The Remains of the Da
May 26, 2008 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful characters, setting, plot, I can't say enough. I was pleased that I was unable to guess the truth behind the secret at the end of the novel. I was surprised at the end which makes a work that much better in my mind. If you enjoyed Water For Elephants or The 13th Tale, you will like this work. A woman, from modern times, is in a nursing home and circumstances require her to remember her early years as a serving girl in a wealthy, British home during the WWI era. The author drifts back a ...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Wish I could give it 10 Stars

My Musings

Wow! I finished The House at Riverton a few days ago and I'm still trying to process my emotions about the novel. I loved, loved it since I gave the book the highest rating that exists here, but my emotions are still roiling. An omission of truth led to tragic consequences. But great British Gothic stories are almost always tragic, aren't they? I loved how Kate Morton paid homage to one of my favorite novels, Rebecca, Upstairs, Downstairs even my favorite d
I loved this book insane amounts. It's everything I wished that Julian Fellowes' "Belgravia" had been able to be (although I did like "Belgravia"). It also gave me my Downton Abbey-time period fix without being overly soap-opera or unrealistic.

The character of Hannah is one I adored and will think about for some time to come, as I will many of the characters. As I was reading, I found it extremely easy to assign actors to the roles in my mind, which I do enjoy doing - I obviously know the time
May 11, 2010 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, audiobooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2013 Noeleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second book to read by Kate Morton. I absolutely love this author. The House At Riverton has great characters and is basically just a great story which is extremely well told. I loved Grace’s character and her telling of the story of the lives of the inhabitants at Riverton, both the descriptions of upstairs and downstairs in the great house and the various characters from both walks of life. The story is full of mystery and family secrets and had me hooked, absorbed and engrossed fro ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Morton’s novels are always fun reads for me and this one didn’t disappoint. With shades of du Maurier’s Rebecca and the BBC’s Downton Abbey, the book was a wonderful mystery.

We meet Grace at the end of her life. She is living out her days at a retirement home when she finds out a movie is being made about a dramatic event that happened in her youth. As a teenager Grace worked as a house maid at a large manor, Riverton, in the English countryside. A young poet committed suicide at the home one n
Jess The Bookworm
Mar 13, 2017 Jess The Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The House at Riverton tells the story of the family who lived at Riverton during the beginning of the 20th century, through the eyes of a servant, Grace.

Grace, who is in her 90s during the present time of this novel, is the narrator of this story and tells the story of what happened to the family at Riverton in flashbacks. You are told in the beginning that there was a suicide at the house, and the rest of the story then leads up to what happened at this point. During the flashbacks you get gli
Jan 04, 2012 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Penso que este foi o 1º livro desta autora mas ainda não o tinha lido. E com muita pena minha posso dizer que foi dos que menos gostei. A história não me desagradou mas acho que se arrastou tempo sem fim, não era necessário um livro tão longo nem tantos pormenores para um desfecho que já se adivinhava quase desde o inicio do livro. Não dou por mal empregue o tempo mas esperava mais...
Kim Kaso
4.5 rounded down. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, even though I could feel it inevitably picking up speed to a tragic conclusion, I wanted to read it more than any other of the several books I am currently reading, and it read fast. Told from the perspective of a 14-year old girl sent to serve as a maid at a great estate in the Edwardian era, it lovingly detailed her world and her interactions with the family she served. The characters all felt real, flawed but wonderfully engaging, and the sto ...more
M.A.G.F. Lee
It wasn't my intention to buy "The House at Riverton". A salesperson at a local bookstore recommended "The Forgotten Garden", also by Kate Morton, but I wasn't sure if it's any good, so I said that I'll read some reviews first and think about it. And from what I've read, "The Forgotten Garden" is a must-read-gothic-mystery novel. I just had to purchase it.
I told my mom about the book, and she was also excited since we both have similar tastes in books and movies. When me and my mom went back to
Andreia Silva
Entre acabar de ler o livro e escrever isto demorei! E demorei, não por falta de oportunidade, mas porque ainda me estava a recompor de toda aquela história. É daqueles livros que sei que vão ficar comigo, na minha cabeça, durante muito tempo e que vou recordar as personagens como sendo pessoas reais. Porque é assim que me sinto. Sinto que conheci a Hannah e a Emmeline e sinto que as vidas delas me passaram pelas mãos. Sinto que, em 1924 eu estava naquela festa e presenciei o "segredo". A histór ...more
Leo C.
Es la primera que leo de Kate Morton y a su vez, la primera de esta autora. Me ha parecido entretenida, se lee fácilmente y la ambientación de la época es tan buena que me ha transportado directamente. Me ha recordado mucho a la famosa serie "Downton Abbey".
Deseando poder leer "El Jardín Olvidado" y "El Cumpleaños Secreto" :)
Oct 29, 2012 ❀Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I highly recommend it for fans of Kate Morton. It's her best one, in my opinion.
This was a beautifully written story. I was so swept away by Kate Morton’s facile command of the English language that I almost lost my critical faculty… until I got to the end. And then I was PISSED.

There was a lot of foreshadowing that raised expectations that were not fulfilled and questions that were not answered. Several passages in the book were terribly misleading, intentionally so.

Here are just a few of my problems with the book:
(view spoiler)
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KATE MORTON grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and three young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specialising in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary gothic novels. Kate harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she became sidetracked writing novels, and still feels a pang of longing ...more
More about Kate Morton...

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“It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down....” 429 likes
“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.” 63 likes
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