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Historical novel set largely in ESSEX, early 20th Century

17th May 2023

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, historical novel set largely in Essex, early 20th Century.

Historical novel set in ESSEX

This novel was first published in 2007 and when it became available on audiobook, beautifully narrated by Emilia Fox, I decided I was up for long listen – just shy of a 20 hour commitment. And what a treat this novel is.

It charts the changes within the Hartford family from WW1 into the roaring 20s. Much of the story is told in real time but also in flashbacks from 1999, where lady’s maid Grace, now in a nursing home, reflects on the trajectory of family life back then. She is motivated to think about events that happened at the house at Riverton (set in fictional Saffron Green) because a film is being made, focussing on the family dynamics, and specifically a death that occurred in 1924 at a glittering summer party.

The story charts the relationship between two sisters, Emmeline and Hannah, as they graduate into adulthood. Hannah, the older, marries into the Luxton family, Americans who saw the demise of her own father’s car manufacturing business. It felt more like a marriage of convenience for her, a way of extricating herself from the suffocating environment, traditions and expectations of the grand old house. She moves to London and part of the story takes place there. Emmeline was left behind and chose a very different path for herself.

The dual timeline narrative is so well managed and flows between the two periods as languidly as the long summer days at Riverton. The time and place both rise from the pages, with wonderfully depicted characters that thread their way through the pages. The storyline is charged with mystery and suspense that gradually unfurls, sucking the reader into a bygone era.

Her new novel Homecoming has just been published, set in the Adelaide Hills and I am very much looking forward to engaging with new characters in a new setting.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Catch Kate on IG @katemortonauthor

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  1. User: Yvonne @Fiction_Books

    Posted on: 17/05/2024 at 7:55 pm

    I read this story not too long after it was first published and I loved it as much as you did!