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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Morton's Trademark Lushness A Win, Every Time

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

At 98 years old, Grace Reeves Bradley can't stop the old memories that flow constantly through her head.  Or the way the people and places of her past keep mixing with those of her present, making it very difficult sometimes to sort reality from reminiscences.  It doesn't help that a young filmmaker is interviewing Grace about the many years she spent serving the Hartfords, the wealthy owners of Riverton, a sprawling country estate in Essex.  Like any good servant, Grace has kept the family's secrets for years.  She intended to take them to the grave, but with the movie maker's insistence on revisiting a long-ago tragedy that occurred at Riverton in 1924, Grace fears the truth may come out.

Although all have been dead for years, Grace can't forget the charming Hartford children.  The warmth between them cast a spell on her from the very first day she met them.  Now, so many years later, she's still loathe to speak—or remember—ill of any of the three.  Even though they all played a part in the death of a young poet, as did Grace herself.  Does she dare expose the truth?  As the elderly woman's days on Earth wane, she must decide whether to unburden herself of the secret she's kept for nearly one hundred years or to keep the misdeeds of the masters to herself, like the good servant she's always been.

I'm probably the last family saga fan on the planet to read The House at Riverton, Kate Morton's debut novel, but I'm not the first to praise its richness.  Having read two of the author's other novels (The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours), I recognize this lushness as Morton's indelible trademark.  It's a trademark I like.  A lot.  I love sinking into books like this, getting to know characters, settings and relationships in depth.  Which is why, even though Morton's books can feel a little too similar, I still really dig them.  Yes, I saw the big reveal at the end coming.  And, yes, the whole story gets a little depressing.  BUT, I still very much enjoyed The House at Riverton.  If you're a fan of fat, juicy family secrets novel, I'm pretty sure you will, too.    

(Readalikes:  The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours by Kate Morton)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives), violence, sexual content, and depictions of underage/excessive drinking/partying

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I loved these books, too. Please keep me informed if new ones are written.

  2. Sounds like my kind of book, too! I love big, sweeping saga in big old houses.:-)


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