A very talented author friend of mine recommended this book and I have to say I’m incredibly glad she did. The House at Riverton was so good that I’m now seeking out Kate Morton’s other title, The Forgotten Garden. I’m a sucker for a great gothic novel, one that links secrets and misdeeds in the past to the fallout they create in the present, and this one didn’t disappoint.
From the back cover:
Grace Bradley was just a girl when she began working as a servant at Riverton House. For years, her life was inextricably tied up with the glamorous and eccentric Hartford family’s daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. Then, at a glittering society party in the summer of 1924, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline, and only they—and Grace—knew the dark truth.
Many years later, when Grace is living out her last days in a nursing home, she receives a visit from a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. The director takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories of the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege, of the vibrant twenties and of a stunning secret that Grace kept all her life.
This book took an interesting look, through the eyes of a young woman “in service,” at the drastic shift in social classes in England that came about just after WWI. The details were well-researched and presented in a way that put you in that time, walking in young Grace’s shoes. The characters were well-drawn, if a bit stereotypical—but you know what they say about stereotypes, they’re around because they are plenty of people who prove them true.
I loved Grace’s elder self as much as young Grace, enough that I’d love to know the rest of Grace’s life story after she left Riverton. Maybe Kate Morton will let us live vicariously through the rest of Grace’s adventures in a future book.
If you’re a fan of gothic novels, this one is for you.