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Editorial Reviews. Review. site Best of the Month, April In her site Store; ›; site eBooks; ›; Literature & Fiction. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Forgotten Garden comes a gorgeous novel set in England between . Then the picture changed and I was near the summer house, only it wasn't the summer house at Riverton—it couldn't have been. This was not the shiny new.

A strange thing began to happen, though. Memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of my mind, began to sneak through cracks. And, after the first tentative drops, the deluge. Whole conversations, word for word, nuance for nuance; scenes played out as though on film. I have surprised myself. While moths have torn holes in my recent memories, I find the distant past is sharp and clear.

Not nearly so much as I had supposed I would. Indeed, the specters I have spent my life escaping have become almost a comfort, something I welcome, anticipate, like one of those serials Sylvia is always talking about, hurrying her rounds so that she can watch them down at the main hall. I had forgotten, I suppose, that there were bright memories in amongst the dark. When the second letter arrived last week, in the same scratchy hand on the same soft paper, I knew I was going to say yes, I would look at the sets.

There is not much left to be curious about when one is ninety-eight years old, but I wanted to meet this Ursula Ryan who plans to bring them all to life again, who is so passionate about their story. So I wrote her a letter, had Sylvia post it for me and we arranged to meet. Plus, receive recommendations for your next Book Club read. By clicking 'Sign me up' I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the privacy policy and terms of use.

Must redeem within 90 days. See full terms and conditions and this month's choices. Do you think of The House at Riverton as a tragic novel? How are the characters' tragic outcomes caused by the incompatibility of what they want and who they are? How important to the novel's outcome is Grace's longing for a sister? When Grace finds out about her true parentage, why does she choose not to tell Hannah?

Is it the right decision? Would things have ended differently had she done otherwise? Kate Morton has said that the novel's setting is as important to her as its characters, that Riverton Manor is as much a character of the book as its inhabitants.

Do you agree? Does Riverton mirror the fates of the Hartford family and the aristocracy in general? If so, in what ways? The First World War was a catalyst for enormous social and cultural change. Not a character in The House at Riverton is left untouched by this. Whose life is most altered? Is there a heroine in The House at Riverton? If so, who is it and why? Grace and Robbie are both illegitimate children of upper-class parents; however, their lives and opportunities are vastly different.

Duty is very important to the youthful Grace. Did Grace's sense of duty contribute to the novel's conclusion? Christmas Angels. Nadine Dorries. The Girl in the Letter: The most gripping, heartwrenching page-turner of the year. Emily Gunnis. After You. Jojo Moyes. The Sisters of St Croix. Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Diana Gabaldon. Edge of Eternity. Ken Follett. Those in Peril. Wilbur Smith.

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Go Set a Watchman. Harper Lee. And the Mountains Echoed. Khaled Hosseini. The Pearl that Broke Its Shell. Nadia Hashimi. Last thing I need is to have to go looking for you. She shook her head. I tell them I need a new girl and what do they send me? No experience, no references and, by the looks of you, a dawdler. Pish, she said, stamping a narrow foot.

And with a final, disapproving toss of her head, she turned heel and left me alone in the tiny dim room at the top of the house. Finally, alone with the sighing of the house, I tiptoed to the door and eased it shut, turning to take in my new home. There was not much to see.

I ran my hand over the foot of the bed, ducking my head where the ceiling slanted against the roof line. Across the end of the mattress was a gray blanket, one of its corners patched by a competent hand. A small, framed picture, the only hint of decoration in the room, hung on the wall: I looked away quickly from the dying animal. Carefully, silently, I sat down, wary of wrinkling the smooth undersheet.

The bed springs creaked in response and I jumped, chastened, my cheeks flooding with color. A narrow window cast a shaft of dusty light into the room. I climbed up to kneel on the chair and peered outside. The room was at the back of the house and very high. I could see all the way past the rose garden, over the trellises and to the south fountain. Beyond, I knew, lay the lake and, on the other side, the village and the cottage in which I had spent my first fourteen years.

I pictured Mother, sitting by the kitchen window where the light was best, her back curled over the clothing she darned. I wondered how she was managing alone. Mother had been worse lately. What would she do for money? And yet it was she who had insisted I apply for the position.

Only shook her head and minded me that she knew best. Not a word as to how she knew. Typical of Mother and her secrets. My face must have betrayed my qualms, for she reached out to touch my cheek. The surprise of her rough hands, her needle-pricked fingertips, made me flinch. There, there, girl. And Mr.

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Townsend, too. She squeezed my cheek hard then, fingers quivering. And Gracie? I had promised to do as she said, and the following Saturday trudged up the hill to the grand manor house, dressed in my Sunday clothes, to be interviewed by Lady Violet. It was a small and quiet household, she told me, just her husband, Lord Ashbury, who was busy most of the time with the estate and his clubs, and herself.

Their two sons, Major Jonathan and Mr. Frederick, were both grown up and lived in their own homes with their families, though they visited at times and I was sure to see them if I worked well and was kept on. With only the two of them living at Riverton they did without a housekeeper, she said, leaving the running of the household in Mr.

Townsend, the cook, in charge of the kitchen accounts. If the two of them were pleased with me, then that was recommendation enough to keep me on. She had paused then and looked at me closely, in a way that made me feel trapped, like a mouse inside a glass jar. I had become instantly conscious of the edge of my hem, scarred with repeated attempts to match its length to my growing height, the small patch on my stockings that rubbed against my shoes and was becoming thin, my too-long neck and too-large ears.

Then she had blinked and smiled: Well, you look clean, and Mr. Hamilton tells me you can stitch. She had stood up as I nodded, and moved away from me towards the writing desk, trailing her hand lightly along the top of the chaise. How is your mother? Did you know she used to be in service here too?

To which I had told her I did know and that Mother was well, thank you for asking. I must have said the right thing, because it was just after that she offered me fifteen pounds a year to start next day and rang the bell for Nancy to show me out.

I tried not to look at the bleeding deer, frozen in his moment of final horror, as I packed my clothes into the top drawer: Then, with a glance at the door and a speeding heart, I unloaded my secret haul. There were three volumes in all. Dog-eared green covers with faded gold lettering.

I stowed them at the back of the bottom drawer and covered them with my shawl, careful to fold it right around so they were completely concealed.

Hamilton had been clear. The Holy Bible was acceptable, but any reading material beyond that was most likely injurious and must be presented for his approval or otherwise risk confiscation. I was not a rebel—indeed, back then I had a fierce sense of duty—but to live without Holmes and Watson was unthinkable. As I tied the apron, a tiny white moth fluttered away in search of a new hiding spot high up in the rafters, and I longed to join it.

The girl in the mirror caught my eye briefly, and I thought what a serious face she had. It is an uncanny feeling, that rare occasion when one catches a glimpse of oneself in repose.

An unguarded moment, stripped of artifice, when one forgets to fool even oneself. She sits next to me on the iron bench and, with a glance towards the office, withdraws a pack of cigarettes. Remarkable the way my apparent need for fresh air seems always to coincide with her need for a covert cigarette break.

She offers me one. I refuse, as I always do, and she says, as she always does: Probably best at your age. Smoke yours for you, shall I? Sylvia looks good today—she has done something different with her hair—and I tell her so.

She nods, blows a stream of smoke and tosses her head, a long ponytail appearing over one shoulder.

The House at Riverton: A Novel

They can do anything these days. She waves her cigarette and I notice the juicy purple ring her lips have left. Of course, you have to pay for it. Luckily I had a bit put aside for a rainy day. Sure enough, a photograph materializes from her blouse pocket. I make a show of putting on my glasses, peering at the image of a gray-mustachioed man in late middle age. He looks lovely. Oh, Grace, she says through a happy sigh. He is.

Not like some of them other layabouts that came before. He opens doors, brings me flowers, pulls my chair out for me when we go about together. A real old-fashioned gentleman. The last sentence, I can tell, is added for my benefit. An assumption that the elderly cannot help but be impressed by the old-fashioned.

What does he do for a living? I say. History and English. Community-minded too; does volunteer work for the local historical society. He knows all kinds of things about that family of yours, the one that used to live up in the grand house on the hill— She breaks and squints towards the office, then rolls her eyes.

Oh, Gawd. She extinguishes her cigarette and pops the butt in the matchbox. Ah well, no rest for the wicked. Anything I can get for you before I do the others, pet? I like to think I have earned this little luxury. Lord knows I have often enough been the bearer of tea.

Sometimes I amuse myself imagining how Sylvia would have fared in service at Riverton. Not for her the silent, obedient deference of the domestic servant.

She has too much bluff; has not been cowed by frequent assertions as to her place, well-intentioned instructions to lower her expectations. No, Nancy would not have found Sylvia so compliant a pupil as I. It is hardly a fair comparison, I know. People have changed too much. The century has left us bruised and battered.

Even the young and privileged today wear their cynicism like a badge, their eyes blank and their minds full of things they never sought to know. It is one of the reasons I have never spoken of the Hartfords and Robbie Hunter and what went on between them.

To Ruth. Or more likely Marcus. But somehow I knew before beginning my tale that I would be unable to make them understand. How it ended the way it did. Why it ended the way it did. Make them see how much the world has changed.

This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Save For Later. Create a List. The House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate Morton. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Atria Books Released: Apr 22, ISBN: I was looking for someone. Thank you. Perhaps you could pass my glasses, though?

I was adamant. That letter would remain unanswered. And so it did. So I wrote her a letter, had Sylvia post it for me and we arranged to meet. I shook my head, wondering when I had become the child. Grace, I said, before Ruth could insist on Doctor. My name is Grace. I could hardly put Mum on a bus now, could I?

Ruth nudged me.

I cleared my throat. Yes, it does. Oh yes. Is there anything that looks out of place? I could feel Ursula looking at me, awaiting keenly my pronouncement. Everything in its place. Then she said something that made me start. Emmeline sounds like she must have been a lot of fun, Ursula said. I nodded. She was always popular.

Beautiful, clever, yearning Hannah. She was complex. She met my gaze. How like Ruth to prepare for our visit, no matter how distasteful she found the subject matter. What about the other sister? Ruth continued. Did she ever marry? No, I said. She was engaged. Oh, but she did. In the end she did. I must say, it seems a rather morbid subject for a film, Ruth said.

Here we are, Ursula said. Thanks, Tony. I could feel then that my cheeks were moist. I put my hand on her arm, felt her tense. I should have trusted my instincts, she said. It was stupid of me. I smiled, felt myself drifting away. It is too late, I am home. I am back. No, Nancy, I said, still smarting at the implication I might be a thief.

I held my breath, listening. You can come home and help me on your days off. I pulled my face from the window, wiped away the mark my breath had left and climbed back down.

I tucked the suitcase under the bed. I am late in my reply, which she takes for agreement. Real hair, the sort they use on celebrities. Feel it. Goodness, I say, stroking the coarse ponytail, real hair. Anthony, she says, beaming. Of course, the signs of progress were upon us even then.The writing was the kind that makes reading easy and rich at the same time.

I have surprised myself.

It was the letter from the filmmaker. I put my hand on her arm, felt her tense. I like to think I have earned this little luxury. Donna Tartt.