The House at Riverton

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Another time, reading the newspaper, my eye was drawn to a familiar name in a write-up in the television guide; a program celebrating seventy years of British films. I noted the time, my heart thrilling, wondering if I dared watch it. In the end I fell asleep before it finished. There was very little about Emmeline.

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A few publicity photos, none of which showed her true beauty, and a clip from one of her silent films, The Venus Affair, which made her look strange: There was no reference to the other films, the ones that threatened such a fuss. It was the first time in over seventy years that anyone had associated me with the events, had remembered that a young woman named Grace Reeves had been at Riverton that summer. It made me feel vulnerable somehow, singled out. That letter would remain unanswered.

The House at Riverton

And so it did. A strange thing began to happen, though.

"The House at Riverton" by Kate Morton

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. Buy from another retailer: The House at Riverton. See all 4 images. The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars.

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Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey , it is the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. In the summer of , at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth. In , when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer.

She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever. The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier.

It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history. Originally published to critical acclaim in Australia, already sold in ten countries and a 1 bestseller in England, The House at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and passion, with characters -- and an ending -- the reader won't soon forget.


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Your Cart items Cart total. Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide.

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Ghosts awaken and memories, long-consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could. I noticed how invisible the elderly sometimes become, and was constantly amazed at the way people with such great wisdom and experience, who have loved and lost and lived such a long time, are so often infantilised and dismissed in our society.

I am fascinated by the period in English history, when nineteenth century gave way to twentieth, and the world as we now know it began to take shape.


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