Monday, January 17, 2011

BOOK: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, 470 pages

 Aussie Author Challenge; Gothic Reading Challenge

I've been submersed in Edwardian England, beginning in 1912 and moving forward, this past week. Between watching Downton Abbey on PBS and reading The House at Riverton, my head is full of World War I, castles needing heirs, servants, and the lower class and women beginning to rebel against their position in society. The parallels between the awesome TV show and this wonderful book are too numberous to mention.

The book: Known as The Shifting Fog in Australia where Morton is from, The House at Riverton title gives it a more Gothic feel in my opinion. Gothic in this book includes romance, castles, secrets, supernatural; maybe this is Gothic-light as the element of horror is not here, but there is still romance, secrets and tragedy. Grace narrates, and Morton uses some interesting techniques to tell the tale of old from different perspectives. Grace was a housemaid, then lady's maid at Riverton estate since she was fourteen and put into service. She was present for the events, largely foreshadowed, that culminate one night in 1924. The secrets that Grace takes a while to figure out are pretty obvious to the reader, but waiting for her to figure them out is the suspense.

Wonderful historical fiction, with the story building and building to its inevitable conclusion. The ride is fun and fast. Thanks to my reading of Maisie Dobbs, I knew the significance of the footman receiving the white feather on the street. I like when information comes from different sources and overlaps. And just as in Downton Abbey where the housemaid is learning shorthand and typing, hoping to have a different life, that plot point shows up in The House at Riverton. My only complaint of the book was that it wrapped up very quickly, but the events were pretty much known by that point, with the heavy foreshadowing throughout.  If you like British historical fiction, set around WWI, with Gothic elements, The House at Riverton is for you.  Now, off to find more of Kate Morton historical fiction. (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden)

also reviewed at: jenny of jenny's books, Wendy at Caribousmom, Tiny Little Reading Room, Eva at A Striped Armchair, jill at The Magic Lasso,  Michelle at 1MoreChapter, Joy at Thoughts of Joy, Rhinoa at Rhinoa’s Ramblings