'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton - Book Review

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The Bottom Line

In The House at Riverton, Kate Morton weaves together a modern Gothic mystery told from the perspective of a ninety-nine-year-old woman in a nursing home who was a servant at Riverton during the 1910s and 1920s. Morton recreates England around World War I well and draws readers into the emotion of the changing time. ​The House at Riverton is an enjoyable read.

Pros

  • Morton paints a vivid picture of life and the changing class structure in England circa WWI
  • There is a compelling voice throughout the story
  • The ending is satisfying, if not entirely surprising

Cons

  • Some of the dialogue wasn't believable
  • The mystery did not always feel big enough to drive the story

Description

  • A filmmaker contacts Grace, who is in a nursing home, to review a movie she is making about the suicide of a poet at Riverton
  • The memories of Grace's time as a servant flood back, including a secret about the suicide that has haunted her for years
  • Grace tells the story of her years of service
  • 'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton was first published in the U.S.A by Atria in April 2008

Guide Review - The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - Book Review

When I first read the description on the back cover of The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, the promise of a modern novel with Gothic qualities and a mystery that takes place in England reminded me of another book published by Atria a couple years ago, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Since The Thirteenth Tale is one of my favorite books, I was excited to read The House at Riverton, and couldn't help but compare the books. Alas, I didn't find The House at Riverton nearly as compelling a mystery or gripping a story. It was, nonetheless, a good read.

From the beginning of the novel, the reader knows that Grace has a secret and that the secret is somehow related to the suicide of the famous poet, R.S.

Hunter. Grace tells her secret slowly, remembering her time at Riverton and her relationship with the sisters there, Hannah and Emmeline. My biggest critique of the novel is that at times the telling feels too drawn out -- I doubted the secret could actually be weighty enough for the build up since there are only so many possible explanations for how Hunter dies. Indeed, it isn't the climax that ultimately makes the ending satisfying, but all the small secrets that radiate from the larger one, and the way different characters come together through these.

My other critique is that Morton does not make clear that Grace and Hannah had a close relationship. Their bond is important to the plot, but it was not one I believed from the action or dialogue.

Despite these flaws, The House at Riverton still held my attention and made me want to keep reading to the end. I wouldn't categorize it as a great novel, but it is definitely more entertaining than many other books that sell and much of what is on TV.

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Your Citation
Miller, Erin Collazo. "'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton - Book Review." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton-book-review-362276. Miller, Erin Collazo. (2017, February 11). 'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton - Book Review. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton-book-review-362276 Miller, Erin Collazo. "'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton - Book Review." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton-book-review-362276 (accessed October 24, 2017).