I picked up “The House At Riverton” in an attempt to satisfy my need for stories mirroring the Downton Abbey theme. Morton seems to really like flashing between past and present, which worked well here. When Riverton’s former housemaid, Grace, is contacted by a film maker to assist with the authenticity of a film being made about a suicide that took place at the English estate she is instantly drawn back to the events leading up to the death of a poet. Morton magnificently captured the constricted and burdensome life in “service” in the English countryside. I found it startling that employees were not permitted to purchase books or take any typing or language courses without the approval of the master of the house.
Yet, it appears Kate Morton and I do not get along. I had previously tried and given up on her other novel, “The Secret Garden.” The verbose prose and slow plot was too much for me there, and I had the same experience here. In “House” I initially liked the characters and found the plot intriguing. But 250 pages into the book (née only halfway!) the endearing character traits and interesting plot had vanished. There was not even a hint at what the plot claimed to be- that the suicide is much more sinister and shrouded with secrets. I’m really baffled as to who actually likes Morton’s books. I’m certainly not picking one up again.