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on 26 December 2012
If you love Downton Abbey you will love this book. I loved the way it was written with the old lady who had been a servant at the house remembering her past (just like the titanic film) as she is at the end of her life. So often when I sat with my own gran she would drift off into a kind of dream and go pale, I can only think this author has experienced the same with an elderly relative. She captures perfectly how the old drift from present to past, and how past incidents are remembered so clearly whilst they experience the loss on here and now.
Unlike the other reviews I did not find it a slow start. I like all the background to get you in the scene and none of it was superfluous to the story. Masterfully written often with a poetic turn of phrase the author hints at past scandle and allows you to work the story as you go along. It will magically transport you back to a time when servants cared more for their masters and mistresses than their own lives and happiness. The devotion and loyalty these people felt to their employers is hard to comprehend in this day and age. When the elite could cover up scandle so well, angling events to suit their need and often changing how we view history by these actions. The social boundaries were so well defined and this book emphasises that with great clarity. You really feel the optimism of the twenties with the young things of the day scandalising the older generation. You will also feel the entrapment many of this generation felt who after the great war wanted freedom, but were caught by their class boundaries to know their place and be patronised by everyone around them. The seemingly glittering life of luxury Hannah has is marred by her own sense of adventure and intelligence which is firmly put down by all who surround her, leaving her to seek an escape that can only lead to tragedy.

This is the second book I have read by this author and I am going to read all her others as I am sure I will enjoy them. I read this on my kindle and can imagine it must be a huge book in paper form so dont think of it as a quick sunday afternoon read - it is a beautifully written epic that will take many hours of reading. From the moment you start you will forget all the other things you have to do because you will not want to put it down.
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on 12 June 2014
This is the third book by Kate Morton I've read, and loved them all. What an interesting story this was, and an unusual narrative style - an old lady looking back on events at "The Big House" when she was in service there. The characters are well drawn, and their motives - and gradually the dark events and secrets of the House and family are revealed. The interaction of the characters, and their motives, and how their actions impinged on others was very well described. As it progressed I couldn't put it down. I didn't guess the ending. This book definitely had the Wow factor, I must find some more Kate Morton to read
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on 9 June 2013
I am a big Kate Morton fan and have loved her later books, ie Secret Keeper, The Forgotten Garden and a Half Forgotten Song, so it was with some relish I picked this up to devour it as much as the others.

I have just finished it and have to say I was a little disappointed and frustrated. Disappointed as I felt it was very wordy with a lot of unnecessary dialogue and events i wasn't really interested in, and at times it fell a little flat for me: frustrated at all the loose ends and all the unanswered questions. Typically, I would have liked to have known more about Grace's life after 1925, also Ursula and Jemima and her family. (I am being deliberately vague as its a convoluted plot and I don't want to spoil it for anyone).

Perhaps if I had read this book first I would not be feeling as I do.

I did enjoy it for the most part so I would recommend it as I wouldn't want to deter anyone from reading Kate's beautiful books.
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on 4 August 2013
I first read and really enjoyed the Secret Garden by Kate Morton and in the various reviews some one mentioned that it was not as good as her first book, The House at Riverton, so I decided to read it.

The reviewer was correct, both are excellent but this one is the best. Her story telling is brilliant as she often leaves it to the readers own life experiences to fill in the gaps and the readers own inclinations to take the story onwards beyond the last page. As with the Secret Garden she moves through generations of time with ease but in this story the jumps are easier to come to terms with and again her use of the English language is superb and her descriptive passages really place you at the scene.

Finally, she has achieved that magical skill of keeping the ultimate revelation to the very last page.
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on 25 November 2008
I decided to buy this book after reading the magnificent 'The Forgotten Garden' by the same author. I had missed all the hype when it was on the Richard & Judy book list.

I found this a really good read, I liked the way that it was created through a series of flashbacks experienced by Grace, a housekeeper in the House At Riverton in the 1920's, as she draws together her memoirs for her grandson, an author.

Telling the story of the family who lived in the House it talks throughout of the death of a famous poet at the house during a family party and makes clear from the start that the book will seek to answer the questions surrounding his death. And the book does this magnificently, if a little crammed into the last few chapters.

I found the book began to pad out nicely around the lives of the main characters and almost the death of the poet became a by-plot that the author felt compelled to finish rather than building the novel around this plot. I also feel that not enough attention was given to the paternity of Grace the Housemaid, a lot of build up is put into her finding out potentially whom her father is but this fails to be explored fully which was dissapointing.

Altogether though a good novel - if a little dissapointing after reading The Forgotten Garden
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on 10 August 2014
This follows the Ashbury family and is told through the eyes of their old servant, Grace. A tragedy occurred many years ago and is now being made into a film causing Grace to relive her memories. You do not find out exactly what happened until right at the end which made it more exciting and kept my attention. The array of characters are intriguing and a joy to read about. This is quite slow to get going but when it does I found it to be exciting. The side plot of what happened to Grace after her years in service is also enjoyable to read and gives a better understanding of her character. I would recommend this as an enjoyable read but it takes a while to get going.
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on 10 December 2012
This is my first book by this author. She was recommended by some friends in the States. This book was cheap at the time so I bought it to try it. It was a terrific tale. Very Downton Abbey styled or Upstairs Downstairs but really very good indeed. It goes back and forth from the 1900's to 1999 as one lady relates everything that went on surrounding a scandal of the era that occurred at the house.
One line really touched me......."Hope died in the gas chambers of Poland"........horribly true and so very sad. Another passage featuring the old butler near the book's end also had me sobbing. When a book touches you like this it has to merit 5 stars.
There were a few formatting errors that seem to crop up a lot in e-books where the odd hyphen will suddenly be thrown in where it's not needed. Most annoying.
All in all a lovely, lovely book and I'll be looking for more books by her now.
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on 11 October 2012
Well I just loved this story, a first novel by Kate Morton. It tells of Grace Bradley, once housemaid at Riverton Manor to the Hartford Sisters, Hannah and Emmilline. Theirs was a life of wealth and privelage so far removed from the life which young Grace was used to but as the story unfolds you see how it is not always money which can bring you happiness, as the Hartford sisters find to their cost. Narrated by an elderly Grace from her bed in the nursing home, this follows the lives of all at Riverton Manor almost a century earlier and the events which led up to a tragic accident whose story is of great interest to someone in the future! Absolutely divine storytelling, wonderful characters and setting and an intriguing plot which has you guessing till the very end. Wonderful writing and for keeps and re reads of that I am sure.
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on 26 September 2012
I was keen to read The House at Riverton after greatly enjoying Kate Morton's The Forgotten garden. This one had no Australian connection but follwed the same pattern of a long historical view of members of a family, with major roles for one or more characterful elder women, plenty of back and forth between time periods, a distinguished location, family secrets and unexpected twists. I found it very slow-going at the beginning when it dwelled raterh too much on the daily life of the young housemaid (as she was at the beginning of the story) who is the book's heroine and main narrator. I persevered, however, and it was well worth it, and I can particularly commend the last third of the book, which is riveting.
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on 3 November 2013
If you like Downton Abbey you'll love this book.

The story takes you back to the same era to the story of Grace, ladies maid to Hannah, one of the Hartford sisters whose family owned Riverton.

We're told almost from the outset that the story revolves around the death of poet Robbie Hunter at Riverton. We are then treated to a very lengthy meander through the events which led up to his death. It is written from the 98 year old Grace's perspective as she looks back on her life.

All in all it was an interesting story and I'm glad I read it, but it did get tedious in places and I kept wishing the author would move the plot on a little quicker.
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