Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The House at Riverton (Kate Morton)

It is quite rare for me to review two books in a row by the same author. I am not one to read a book, and then run out to buy the next one if I like the style. I really don't know why it took me so long to discover Kate Morton (The House at Riverton was her debut, published in 2006), but I am so glad I did.

Narrated by Grace Bradley, a housemaid at Riverton House beginning when she was just a girl, The House at Riverton spans decades. Grace desperately wants her grandson (who has disappeared) to see her before she dies, so she makes him a set audiotapes about her past. She went to work at Riverton when she was fourteen and became entrenched in the goings-on of the House. From the servants to the family to outsiders (or so they seem), every character is important. Grace becomes deeply involved in the lives of the Riverton children, especially the sisters Hannah and Emmeline. However, World War I service meant sacrificing your own life for those you served. Will Grace ever get a life of her own? What really happened in that house? Will Grace die before seeing her beloved grandson? What really happened at the lake, where we learn early on that a character took his own life?

Morton loves her early twentieth century Gothic English estates, as do I. What is most fascinating about her novels is that we find out many plot points early on; however, we don't know how it gets to that point (or if the early plot point is even true), until we get there. Settle in for a deeply layered read that will keep you glued to every page.