Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The House at Riverton - by Kate Morton
I am so happy to be back reviewing! And really excited about the book I'm leading with, The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton.
This is a gothic mystery very much in the tradition of DuMaurier's Rebecca - with an homage appearing even in the first lines. It uses the trope, a favorite of mine, of an elderly woman looking back on her past and recalling a deep, dark family secret. The past in this instance is the early part of the 20th century, just as the traditions and mores of the Victorian era were giving way to the modern day.
The heroine, Grace, is a young girl in service at a grand house who witnesses the undoing of that family and really the tradition of great families presiding over estates with servants who know their place. The war changes things. People change. Work changes. The economy changes. Expectations change. And it seemed a very disconcerting time to be alive for all parties.
When a young filmmaker comes asking an elderly Grace questions for a movie she's making about the family, Grace relives all of it and reveals the family's secrets for the first time ever.
I've read a lot of mysteries. I thought I had things pegged. But this book surprised me over and over again and I never saw the end coming.
This book is a gift to the reading public and one I'd wholeheartedly press into the hand of anyone looking for a story to get lost in.
If you enjoy this, I'd also recommend Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, the gothic romances of Victoria Holt (who also wrote a great deal of historical fiction under the name Jean Plaidy), and Possession by A.S. Byatt.