Customer Reviews for

The House at Riverton: A Novel

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

32 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

Mesmerizing & emotional

For me, this was on of the best novels I have read in some time. In order to truly like this book, you must enjoy a good story. Good stories aren't always filled with suspense and drama. The ending is a wonderful one but sometimes to enjoy the end you must know the begi...
For me, this was on of the best novels I have read in some time. In order to truly like this book, you must enjoy a good story. Good stories aren't always filled with suspense and drama. The ending is a wonderful one but sometimes to enjoy the end you must know the beginning. The majority of the book is allowing you to get to know the characters, their relationships, and this is what makes the ending so emotional & satisfying. This is a spectacular debut from a new author who is able to allow us to see the past through the memories of an older woman. We see life through the eyes of a service girl dedicated to the lady she works for. A girl who kept a secret her entire life and finally shares it with the reader. It's been a long time since I felt such emotion after finishing a book.

posted by JerseyAngel on September 20, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Really disappointed

The House at Riverton was the first book I'd read by this author. This was not the book for me. I found it very boring and slow, and depressing. It was like reading a soap opera. Lots of characters, to the point that it was a little confusing for me. Some of them seemed...
The House at Riverton was the first book I'd read by this author. This was not the book for me. I found it very boring and slow, and depressing. It was like reading a soap opera. Lots of characters, to the point that it was a little confusing for me. Some of them seemed unnecessary. As much as there was going on in this book, nothing really happened. And I was looking forward to reading The Forgotten Garden, but after this experience with this book and author....maybe not.

posted by 4549926 on November 23, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 120 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    I certainly am not a reviewer of books so anything I say about Kate Morton's House at Riverton would not do it justice. But I can tell you that I liked the book and I was intrigued enough to read through to the end. Full of contrasts such as the Upstairs and Downstairs lives in an English Manor, WWI fought in Germany and how those left in England survived and aided those fighting, the haves and the have nots. Most of the character's, though well formed, seemed to be phonies and I only actually cared for a few. I enjoyed reading of the Golden Age in England which I have not done before. As House of Riverton is Ms. Morton's debut novel she will likely go on to write many more interesting novels that I would be happy to include on my bookshelf. I give it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    It held my attention in some chapters where I just couldn't put it down and left me flat in others. The story line was somewhat predictable, some of the events have been done before and it did not explore certain events that could have used further explanation. Not my favorite and not one I would read again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    The House At Riverton presents a good story that will hold the reader's interest. I would recommend this book to readers looking for an entertaining story that flows like a two hour made-for-TV movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    The novel¿s told through flashbacks Grace, over ninety, decides that to connect with her grandson she¿s going to tell him a story about her deepest secret. That secret dates back to the Edwardian era, when Grace was a servant at Riverton, specifically a lady¿s maid to Hannah, one of the daughters of the house and just the same age as her. One night, something tragic happened at Riverton between Hannah, Emme (the other sister), and a poet. We know that pretty much from the beginning¿the rest is revealed slowly over time. I really, really enjoyed the first third of the book. Then, in the middle of Part Two, the story started to feel familiar, and by Part Four it felt like I¿d already read it some other time. In the Author¿s Note, Morton references a number of `influences,¿ and I have read or seen many of them. Perhaps that¿s the source of my strange feeling¿I¿m certainly not accusing Morton of plagarism, but I kept reading passages and being reminded of The Blind Assassin, or Gosford Park, or Remains of the Day,, or even (though Morton didn¿t list it) The Thirteenth Tale. (As far as plot, the writing didn't live up to any of the books listed.) In addition to this issue, in the last two-thirds the characters seemed to flatten out, each becoming more and more like a caricature than a living, breathing person. Also, the book completely glosses over much of World War I and, while shellshock is integral to the plot, the lack of a fully formed male character to really explore the psychological damage such an experience must have caused is a definite hole. The characters all become distinctly less sympathetic as the book progress in the early parts, I was as much in love with David, Hannah, and Emme as Grace herself. By the time of the tragedy, I really could care less what happens to anyone. Also, I think Morton is a bit too fond of coincidences. Her sensibility is almost Dickensian, and while all of them have enough of a grounding in various situations that they¿re not completely unbelievable, the pile towards the end is definitely teetering. I found myself rolling my eyes more than once, which probably isn¿t a good sign. The first third is so, so good that I¿m not sure what happened if Morton just got tired, so decided she wanted to finish it, cliches be damned, or if she couldn¿t decide how to get to her ending and keep the prose alive and sparkling. Thus, the combination of a really strong beginning and increasingly weak second half makes this a difficult book to either recommend or not recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2008

    House at Riverton

    A mystery of long ago. Can Grace come to terms with what happened yesteryear? All said and done, I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I really would have given it a 4 if the middle of the book had not been so long winded and the ending was too predictable. Still--I look forward to reading more from this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2008

    House at Riverton

    The characters could have been defined a bit more that Morton has done. The secret was very predictable and easy to figure out. Letting the reader know the outcome and then flashing back to describe the details was a unique way of writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2008

    House at Riverton

    Kate Morton's debut novel The House at Riverton is filled with secrets. And it is ninety-eight year old Grace Bradley, former maid to the Hartford family at Riverton, who narrates the tale of secrets and interwoven lives against a backdrop of World War I and the 'Roaring Twenties'. Ms. Morton's novel definitely begins with a lot of promise...bringing Grace to life in a strong, engaging style, setting the stage with her descriptions of Riverton and presenting a well-researched historical time life. However, many of the elements of the story itself and the secrets to be revealed are too predictable...Many readers will recognize the sequence of events and the secrets of Riverton are not really mysteries. Additionally, the narrator Grace is the only memorable character...all the other players (Hannah, Emmeline, Teddy, Deborah, Frederick, etc.) are shallow stereotypes revealing major character flaws. I would recommend this novel for a week-end or travel reading selection. It was an easy read once I stopped comparing it to similar fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    House at Riverton

    While I enjoyed the writing style of the author, I was disappointed in the depth of the main character-Grace. The story was told well, and the author managed to jump from 'present day' to 'past' with ease. I felt somewhat cheated in that Grace seemed to have so much more to offer. The author frequently mentioned toward the end that Grace's adult life had progressed and she became an archaeologist, but this facet of her life just seemed passed over. I also felt that the character of Marcus was unexplored. All in all, I enjoyed the book and learning some of the facets of the societal differences and expectations between the social classes of those 'to the Manor born' and the people who served them. The ending was interesting, if a bit rushed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    House at Riverton

    The best part of The House at Riverton was the storytelling. If you are looking for an interesting story without any surprises this is the book for you. The 'mystery' wasn't very engrossing, easy to guess all the 'surprises', but the house and era were a very easy read. I bet the author's next book, hopefully with more depth, will be better as she has a knack for putting you in a scene. I would recommend this book for a vacation or just to escape. Your brain won't be fried and you'll feel good after.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    House at Riverton

    Ms Morton writes a credible story of a 98 year old women revisiting the past at the end of her life. The characters are thrown out in the first chapter, and are not necessarily defined until much later in the book. Some of the character development is not done at all. I see Grace young and old, and can feel empathy for her, but I don't feel personally involved with the story. Riverton is a good first book for the author and I don't feel it was a waste of time reading, I can only give 3 stars. The book feels incomplete.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2008

    House at Riverton

    I would give this book three stars. The writing is well done. Imagery I would give 5 stars. Every scene could be pictured in vivid detail. Another plus was that it was an easy read for over the holiday season. I did not have to think a lot about while I was reading it. What bothered me the most was that I kept picturing the old woman who was the main part of the story in the movie Titanic. A few subliminal references in The House at Riverton plus one part in the story were a boy is climbing and yells I'm the King of the world. That was a bit much. It distracted me from the true story of the book and this book is not strong enough to do that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    The story was a quick read, entertaining, but not very thought provoking. The novel started out strong with its multi-layers of character and plot building and memory sequences. As the story progressed, it became extremely predictable. The main storytelling technique used by the author was a memory sequence tool. The memory sequences caused a bit of complexity that became ¿worn¿ by the middle of the book, due to over usage. In all fairness to the author, this could have been indicative of the loss of faculties, as death gets closer in the elderly. The multi-layering of characters causes some disappointment when the relationships are finally revealed. The reader is led to believe some characters are extremely important to the story. This over-inflated importance causes disappointment in the end when the reader realizes the character was really just superficial to the story. The present day narrations would have been better suited to the story if the old woman had been telling the real story of the tragedy to the filmmaker and not to her grandson, who was by all rights a superficial character. The additional characters did nothing more than complicate the novel. The author spent time making sure the reader knew there were some regrets in this area of the old woman¿s life and left little resolution in the relationships of the old woman¿s immediate family. This is a novel about living a life filled with secrets, and regretting the outcomes. To a large degree, the tragedy in the past was the old woman¿s fault. The novel was about her purging her soul of the guilt before her own death. The tragedy in the past was not the real story though. The socio-economic structure of the characters in that time period led to the need for secrets. The reason for the tragedy was a mis-truth the old woman allowed her mistress to believe at the young age of fifteen. This novel is not about the sisters, the house, the family, or the house staff. It¿s about the old woman and the mis-truth she allowed her mistress to believe, which eventually became the catalyst for the family tragedy and the lifelong guilt she lived until shortly before her death. Yet, the story was written in such a way the reader might forget the mis-truth was ever told. Too many clues were left for the reader to figure out the ¿secrets¿ ¿ and there were many. This book was just not very challenging, though it was entertaining. I found myself extremely interested in the first part through half of the second part. Unfortunately, after that, I was just reading to finish it, not because I was enthralled in the story. I was curious to know how the author would end the novel, but that really had nothing to do with the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2008

    House at Riverton

    I enjoyed the book and the mood that was created in the beginning, but I felt that it ultimately didn't live up to the potential it laid out for itself. The first third or half of the novel really drew me in, and I was fascinated by the characters' relationships to each other across their social standings. The 'secrets' hinted to weren't too terribly secret - Morton left too many clues, and characters gave each other too many 'significant looks' to really keep me in the dark. The ultimate mystery unfolded really well until the last few pages. The flashback sequences suddenly started showing up out of linear order, and so when the climax of the book happened, I was put off by what I felt were 'stupid' characters - till I realized that the scenes had played out in a different order than they'd happened. I'd been so used to the novel's progression of a linear modern-day story flashing back into a linear past story that I'd failed to register that the scenes had started jumbling up. This made a chilling, wonderful climactic scene into a farce that made me roll my eyes till I realized my mistake. By then, of course, the effect was somewhat spoiled. The story was oddly told as well. I wanted to know more about Grace's life, and only really learned about her up to a certain point. It was as if Morton had researched the heck out of the WWI/1920s period and really wanted to show that, but any part of the narrative outside this period felt merely sketched out. All in all it was a good book, and one that I would recommend to friends in paperback. The unevenness of the storytelling, combined with the setup at the end, keeps me from raving about it, or probably rereading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2008

    House at Riverton

    It is too predictable and too long for what happens. I did like the setting and the plot, but over 400 pages could have included more action.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2008

    House at Riverton

    I guessed the 'secrets' very early on in the book as the author gave some huge hints. The story line and characters were predictable. The book was written in a workmanlike manner. It is a beach read kind of book as it entertains but does not challenge you.

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    Posted May 20, 2010

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    Posted January 14, 2011

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    Posted September 20, 2010

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    Posted January 31, 2011

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    Posted May 4, 2013

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