The House at Riverton

I’ll tell you right off the bat that I picked up this book because it was cheap, and I’d heard rumblings that it was a good book. For $9.99 I was willing to take a chance. And I certainly got my money’s worth. It’s terrific! House at Riverton, The by Kate Morton (published by Washington Square Press) is one of those cosy British stories about the priviledged part of society who live upstairs, and their servants who live downstairs (kind of like the book version of the very popular TV series Upstairs, Downstairs). Fourteen year old Grace Bradley is sent into service at Riverton, the glorious English estate of the aristocratic Hartford family. She becomes lady’s maid to Hannah, one of the two Hartford sisters. The other being younger sister Emmeline. Tragedy strikes in 1924 at a glittering society party at Riverton, sending the story on a different path entirely from the cosy-feel-good path it started out on. The story unfolds over decades and eventually Grace, at the age of 99, is asked to recollect her years of service for a film that is being made about events that took place there that summer. Morton is a wonderful writer as evidenced  at the very beginning of the book… “Face paint restored some life to my cheeks, but I was careful not to let Sylvia overdo it. I am wary of looking like an undertaker’s manequin. It doesn’t take much rouge to tip the balance.”  I just knew the book would be good after reading that. There wasn’t a single moment when I though I wanted to stop reading (and it’s 468 pages). It’s well worth buying, even if you can’t get it for $9.99 as I did.

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