Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog), by Kate Morton (author), Caroline Lee (narrator)

Bolinda Publishing, ISBN 9781921334863, April 2008 (original publication 2006)

Dr. Grace Bradley, archaeologist, 97 years old, is dying. Before she she dies, she's recording for her grandson the story of her early life, starting with the day she arrived at the house at Riverton before the start of the First World War, to begin service as a housemaid in the home where her mother was previously a housemaid.

Grace tells us in alternating sections about her years at Riverton with the Hartford family, and the story of her last months, in 1999, worrying about her grieving and wandering grandson, her sometimes difficult relationship with her daughter, and a new friendship with a young filmmaker who wants to tell the story of a crucial year in the lives of the Hartfords.

In the course of this Morton unfolds for us a story of family secrets, the changes wrought in England by the violence and loss of the Great War, and the often complicated relationships between the classes at a time when the old verities were breaking down. There are major secrets in the Hartford family, and Grace is more connected to them than she knows at first, or for many years.

As the story of young Grace, and the Hartford daughters, Hannah and Emmeline, builds to a climaz in the 1920s, Old Grace works to complete her recorded memoir for her grandson and hopes for his return before she dies. As always with Morton, character is developed and revealed in big events and small, and we get an absorbing family drama that will make a great beach read.

Recommended.

I bought this book.