This book (published April 2008) by Kate Morton consumed much of my November. Often when a book takes me so long to read, it's because the book drags on and on, yet I am determined to finish it. Not so with The House at Riverton. I loved Morton's debut novel. I thought about the characters often through the days (weeks) during which I read the well-sculpted and richly woven book. My problem was that I just couldn't stay awake for more than a few pages at a time, thus the 2-3 week reading period.
The novel begins with 98-year-old Grace, who had once been a servant for a prominent British family, the Ashburys. As a maid, Grace is able to observe the happenings in the home—especially among the three teenagers—without being noticed. She is privy to all sorts of information and secret goings-on. World War I tears the family apart, and Grace eventually becomes the lady's maid of the eldest daughter, Hannah. During these years, younger sister Emmeline grows wild and Hannah, who married for money and security, falls in love with a famous but intense poet.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks brought about by a modern-day filmmaker who seeks to make a documentary about Riverton. Grace is the only living remnant of the Riverton generation, and the filmmaker's inquiries open the floodgates to Grace's memories.
This novel has a similar feeling to Diana Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. There is an old family, a history of secrets, and that lovely ghostly feel. I definitely recommend this one; I only wish I'd been able to read it in larger chunks for a more cohesive experience.
Other reviews of The House at Riverton:
The Literate Housewife here
One More Chapter here
The Sleepy Reader here
If you've reviewed the book, leave your link in the comments!