Category Archives: house at riverton

Upstairs, Downstairs

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Upstairs, Downstairs

From the first, I couldn’t get images of Downton Abbey out of my head while reading this book. In parts, it’s a mash-up of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs about the lives of staff and their wealthy patrons and how they intersect and influence the other. The House at Riverton has all the scandal and drama of Downton Abbey and quite a bit of heart. Told from the perspective of house maid Grace, the story covers about a decade in the lives of the Hartford family. From the fancies and dreams of youth to the traumatizing events of WWI, the characters grow and change with the changing times. However, the passage of time in the book was a bit jumbled for my taste. I never was sure exactly when it was or how old the main characters were supposed to be at that point which caused some head scratching on my part.

Morton’s forumla is definitely starting her and, perhaps because she’s still finding her rhythm, not nearly as strong as in her later books. The big reveals in the book aren’t all that shocking because of Morton’s constant foreshadowing the reader pretty much knows what to expect. Perhaps most jarring is that effort it takes Morton to arrange her main character, Grace, into the other characters secret lives, even listening in at keyholes, to keep the story moving forward. In fact, Grace is probably the best part of the book. She’s the best fleshed out character of the bunch. I found myself far more interested in the little snippets we gleamed about her life than the lives of the Hartfords. Grace was the quietly subversive one and definitely the one who lived what the other characters only dreamed about.

Despite the little hiccups in the book, I enjoyed it immensely. I like Morton’s formula and she does it well. I especially loved the small scene in the book featuring Agatha Christie.

Rating: 4/5.

For those of you wondering what’s next in the battle here’s a hint. It’s going to be a memoir! Happy reading!!

The House at Riverton

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The House at Riverton

The next book on the agenda is Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton. For any of you curious about the category, this is the popular author’s first book. I’ve read a few other books by Kate Morton, perhaps my favorite being The Distant Hours. I loved the I Capture the Castle feel about that book and the gothic darkness surrounding it.

In the books I have read by Kate Morton, she definitely has a formula she follows for her books and it works splendidly for her. I’m excited to read this first book and see how she has crafted and adapted her formula from here. Each book I’ve read her formula gets a bit sleeker and I can’t wait to see where she started to compare her later novels. In addition, I love the oscillating back and forth between time periods. Morton does a great job of recreating the past, a tad bit melodramatic, but intriguing nonetheless. She is a great one for foreshadowing as well.

This particular book is set during the first world war and then oscillates with the present from the perspective of a main working at Riverton. And naturally mystery and intrigue shortly follow.

Stay tuned for more book battle fun! Happy reading!