Friday, January 4, 2013

The House at Riverton (Book Review)

The House at Riverton / The Shifting Fog
by Kate Morton (2006)

The House At Riverton

Summer 1924: on the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.

Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time house-maid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken and memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could.

Set as the war-shattered Edwardian summer surrenders to the decadent twenties, The House at Riverton is a thrilling mystery and a compelling love story.

I first discovered Kate Morton last winter with her third novel, The Distant Hours, which made rather a deep impression on me.  Soon afterwards I read her second, The Forgotten Garden, which I also found intriguing.

She’s an Australian author but her novels are set (mostly) in England. Each novel is a completely separate story so it does not matter in which order you read them.

Her debut novel, The House at Riverton (also published under the title The Shifting Fog) has been waiting on my shelf for a while because my eye trouble last spring got in the way of reading it. I still find small printed text very tiring… But then I also found this one available as talking book in Swedish translation, and so I ended up reading some chapters in my English paperback, and listening to others in Swedish – a mix I have not tried before, but with this book it worked very well (which means it must have been a good translation!)

I think the blurb quoted above is really as much information as you need about the content beforehand. I liked it, and found it hard to put down/turn off… It’s got a lot of Upstairs/Downstairs or Downton Abbey (TV-series) kind of atmosphere so if you’re a fan of those, then I think you’re likely to enjoy this one as well.

Kate’s latest book The Secret Keeper was published a few months ago. I’ve bought that one for my Kindle and it’s on my To Read list for the coming year.

9 comments:

  1. This sounds very good. What's up with the double name, did the publisher's not like what she had named it?

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    1. I guess different titles were used in different countries by different publishers, I'm not sure which of them was the original title.

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  2. the fact it doesn't matter which order is a big plus. sometimes i read a book and love it then find it was the last in a series and when i try to read the others it ruins them. i think series should be stand alone, just have the same people. or at least have a big warning on the cover that it is 3rd in a series of 3

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    1. I agree. Books that are part of a series should have a note about this on the cover, and a list of all the books in the series in the right order inside. Kate Morton's novels are completely stand alone, they have no characters in common. Just a certain similarity in themes and settings... Some old English country manor, a mystery in the past, a plot that goes a bit back and forth between present and past time.

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  3. In recent years, I have tended to read very factual books focusing on culture and travel or academic literature. I have consequently got out of the habit of reading mystery style stories. Have been watching a few Miss Marple's on television over the last few nights though and the presentation of this story inspires me to read it.

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    1. I find reading goes in cycles and depends on where one is in life. Not working or formally studying now, I read mostly for pleasure. I like a bit of mystery but not too much focus on violence and forensics.

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  4. So far, I have only read "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton (I think I've posted a review on my blog) and really liked it.
    Your way of reading/listening to "The House at Riverton" is intriguing - you are right, it must be a very good translation if that mix worked well for you!

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  5. I like her writing very much, but felt that the latest one, The Secret Keeper, though good, was not as good as the others.

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  6. I have the book but haven't yet got round to reading it. Sounds like it's moving up my reading list though.

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