Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.
Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. 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.
Set as the war-shattered Edwardian summer surrenders to the decadent twenties, The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog is an alternate title) is a thrilling mystery and a compelling love story.
©2006 Kate Morton; (P)2006 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.
"Your headphones will be glued to your ears!"
In the genre of romantic and nostalgic love stories this book is one of the best I have ever read because it is written with much subtlety and fine nuances: we learn a great deal about the psychological interchange between the old and the young; what life was really like before and after WW I; the contrasting viewpoints of Grace, the young and Grace, the old narrator; well-drawn portraits of several servants with very differing viewpoints; striking depictions of the two sisters around whom the riveting plot develops.
Unlike in the superficial romantic love stories, there are not many happy endings in this novel. The story could really have happened. It is very life-like and full of irony.
And finally to the audio rendition by Caroline Lee: Australian twang? Yes, a little bit, but not to the extent that it would detract from the fact that she is a brilliant, sophisticated reader who draws you into the story immediately and holds your attention the whole time. I hope I'll find other books on Audible read by her.
"Its a bit Upstairs Downstairs"
Upstairs Downstairs with an Australian twang from the narrator. I enjoyed this book, but I felt the characters lacked depth - Grace in her 90's reflects on her life as a young servant and the events that took place ......... I wanted to know the older Graces perspective on things. What in her latter years did she think about the hierarchy in which she had grown up, what did she think of the poverty, the inequality and injustice......... but the story is told 'as was' with little reflective analysis which unfortunately makes her and the other characters seem one dimensional.
"Enjoyable and engaging"
I really enjoyed this story, old Grace's descriptions of life in service and her relationships with those upstairs blended well with young Grace's innocence and naivety and I found the switching between past and present engaging. I cared about the outcome for old Grace just as much as I was interested in her story of the past. As the story unfolded I found I couldn't wait to plug my earphones in and listen to the next chapters. I did find the Australian narrator's attempts at the Essex accent a little bit annoying at times and I would have preferred an English narrator but not so much to distract from the story.
Fantastically captures 30s spirit and truly unputdownable. Can't recommend enough.
"An inviting dip into the past"
A strong flowing narrative which captured and held my attention. Each day I found myself looking forward to an enjoyable and colourful escape to the past and the events before, during and after the great war. The links between past and present work well as the elderly Grace slowly reveals her story. The ending is perhaps a little predictable but doesn?t detract from a satisfying tale. And this Australian thought the Australian narrator was clear and easy to listen to.
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