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Thursday, June 12, 2008
The House at Riverton
Morton, Kate. The House at Riverton.
6 word synopsis: Death of an era. Upstairs, Downstairs.
Coincidentally, as I was reading this, I'd already watched the first disk of Upstairs, Downstairs, the legendary BBC series about an aristocratic family and their servants, which I'm receiving disk by disk from Netflix.
I was also reminded of The Thirteenth Tale and other novels in the modern gothic vein and was delighted that in the Author's Note, Morton listed some of them as part of her inspiration and for further reading: Remains of the Day by Ishiguro, Possession by Byatt, Half-Broken Things by Joss, and a Dark-Adapted Eye by Babara Vine. I enjoyed all of these and plan to locate copies of two others that the author mentioned, but that I've not yet gotten around to reading: The Chatham School Affair by Cook and The Blind Assassin by Atwood.
The story is predominantly set in the early part of the twentieth century, but alternates between that period (when the important events occured) and the latter part of the century. The narrator is Grace Bradley who entered service in 1914 when she was fourteen and end in 1998 when she was 98 - an individual utterly entwined with the century. The novel begins with Grace at 98 as she re-visits her early life during interviews for a movie about the family she served.
Grace's memories, however, continue to push through, becoming more real to her than the present, and a great deal of the story she remembers is never mentioned in the interviews or conversations.
Lots of secrets and a mysterious death in this one. I enjoyed it.
Fiction. Psychological mystery. 2006. 473 pages.