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The House at Riverton

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  76,950 Ratings  ·  6,800 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, 484 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Washington Square Press (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)

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
Nov 11, 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
Dec 27, 2015 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
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 21, 2015 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
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
Mary Beth
Jan 11, 2016 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
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
Apr 02, 2009 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
Sep 21, 2012 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 14, 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
Dec 04, 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
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" :)
Jan 15, 2014 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written like, The Shadow of the Wind, crafted like, Atonement, and very beloved like Downton Abbey!!!!

In this book, Riverton is more than just a mansion in England; it's a character in itself. It's an upstairs/downstairs tale of a servant named Grace, the Hartford sisters and secrets kept. My favorite thing about this book was the writing. Kate Morton is very talented. She knows how to draw people into her books by character development and holding certain information. I loved the wa
Apr 29, 2013 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I debated since finishing this book on what to rate it. Even now with having given it 3 stars I'm still wavering. I think perhaps it needs a half star more.

It's not that it's a bad book quite the contrary but there were just so many irksome things that for me detracted from the book as a whole.
The House at Riverton tells the story of the Hartford’s, the sisters Hannah and Emmeline specifically through the eyes of Grace their housemaid and later lady’s maid. The story is told through the memorie
Nov 30, 2014 Malia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first, but likely not the last book I read by Kate Morton. It is quite long, which put me off for a while, though it had been sitting on my shelf for a year or so. I read it for the November Book Pals group and have to say, I am happy I finally did.
The story is part mystery, part historical fiction with some romance thrown in as well, so there is something for everyone:-)
Partly written in the present and partly via flashbacks, it tells the story of Grace, a former housemaid at the E
Micky Sahi
Apr 02, 2015 Micky Sahi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Childhood. Where did it all go? Our adventures? Our dreams...Small worries grew bigger and limitless. The world peeled away our childhood, our innocence leaving us exposed to rules, relationships and countless expectations. Like Hannah, I started to miss my 'black box' too. Did you?

There were times I felt standing right beside Hannah, everytime she gazed out of the window, I would gaze longingly for some adventure to come and take her away from all those restrictions. I would yearn to tell Frede
This is one of the best written and most compelling books I have ever read - the suspense and the way the story unfolds demonstrates that it is the journey and not the destination that matters.

This story unfolds concurrently in the 1920s and 1999. Grace, in the 20s, is a housemaid and is promoted to a lady's maid. In 1999 she is an old lady living in a nursing home approaching death. The reader knows that Robbie McCourt, a poet, suicides at Riverton, in 1925, and we know that he really didn't su
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
3 1/2 stars

This is not too bad if you're looking for a fairly in-depth romance/mystery combination. It goes into quite a lot of detail about the moneyed classes and their household servants in England in the early 20th century. So many families were torn apart and so many lives painfully altered by World War I.

I might have gone with four stars except that it's longer than it needs to be. That seems to be Kate Morton's style. Lots and lots of detail about domestic life. I also didn't rate it high
Jul 03, 2015 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, audible, book-nook
This is the second book I have read by Kate Morton and I just adore her. I actually listened to this one on audio and I enjoyed the story immensely, the narrator is superb and really adds a layer to the story. There are so many dimensions that add to what ultimately happens in this story and there is much debate as to why the narrator kept the secrets that she did. I enjoyed hearing about how the family members grew up and how different interactions with each shaped the people they became and in ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Miloš rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
Review to come...
4,5 stars

O Segredo da Casa de Riverton foi a primeira obra que Kate Morton apresentou ao público. Foi com este livro que o sucesso da autora se fez sentir pela primeira vez e até hoje, todas as suas obras têm tido muito sucesso por esse mundo fora. Apesar de não ter sido o primeiro livro da autora que li, não podia deixar de ler as restantes obras que a autora tem no mercado e por isso dentro dos dois livros que me faltavam ler, escolhi este para primeiro, por razões muito simples: foi o prime
Liliana Rio
Oct 08, 2016 Liliana Rio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kate-morton
Estas revelações finais deixaram-me com um nó amargurado.... :-/ não esperava de todo isto...

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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....” 418 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.” 61 likes
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