2011: 58. The House at Riverton


“Last November I had a nightmare.”

The House at Riverton, Kate Morton

This falls squarely into one of my favorite genres of novel - the mysterious story from the past that gets slowly dribbled and drabbled out over the course of the story.  And this one checks all the boxes - the narrator who is looking back on her long life, the tortured love story, the English manor house setting.  Not to mention one of my favorite plots - the losses in the Great War, which always get me, no matter how many books I read that tap into that vein.  And so, this book should have been a favorite, but somehow it didn’t quite do it for me.  It was just a little too familiar, and there were a few elements that didn’t quite work.

The story is told by Grace, who worked as a maid to the wealthy Hartford family and knew all their secrets, including the secrets of the terrible say when a young poet shot himself, and only the two daughters knew the truth of what happened.  The problems with the book were:  1) I totally guessed every single plot point minor and major before the end, so their were no surprises, 2) the plots weren’t that interesting, anyway (I expected at least a scandalous homosexual affair), 3) the main character/narrator’s life was too much for me to deal with.  SPOILERS AHEAD, FUN AHOY* - it’s enough that 1) Grace gives up the love of her life to stay a maid to these stupid Hartfords, and 2) she turns out to the their unacknowledged half sister - but never tells any one, but 3) afterward she somehow escapes servitude and becomes a famous archeologist? And what is the point of the story with her estranged grandson (whose story goes no where) except to have someone to tell the story too?

I don’t know, I enjoyed this whilst reading it. I might even read more of her work.  But the plot just doesn’t quite work for me.

Categories:  Fiction

*To quote my new favorite podcast, Extra Hot Grea

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017