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The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey it's the story of an aristocratic family a house a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it allThe novel is full of secrets some revealed others hidden forever reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier It's also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history


10 thoughts on “The Shifting Fog

  1. says:

    I probably would have enjoyed Kate Morton's debut novel The House at Riverton if I had not already experienced the greater expression of her writing talent in The Forgotten Garden Riverton shares many of the themes of her later work but with the narrator at a greater remove from the focus of the story it tends to make her characterizations a bit flat The story of the Hartford family focused on the sisters Hannah and Emmeline is told by Grace a servant to the family for many years Her uneual social relationship to the sisters keeps her at a distance and their experiences are relayed through her limited perspectiveWhile I appreciate the detail taken to illuminate the differences in the lives of the social classes it seemed to take the novel a long time to build up tension around the incident at the heart of the book's mystery The last uarter of the book moved along well but by that time many of the hints throughout the book had answered most of the uestions just the details remained to be filled in The use of foreshadowing became a bit repetitive giving the book the feel of a serial at timesWhen I reached the end of the book I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like if Morton had used the ending as a jumping off point for a story about Grace’s later life The book tantalizes us with interesting details about choices she made as a woman that seemed much interesting to me How did she transform from a Victorian lady's maid into an independent career minded woman exploring the world as an archeologist? What happened in her relationship with her daughter Ruth over the years? How did she and Alfred find each other after over half a lifetime and how had their relationship changed? Unfortunately we didn't get to experience Grace's character growth within the story itself


  2. says:

    This is My guilty pleasure and my go to novel when I am in need of a little tender reading care Something historical set in a rambling period property on a country Estate preferably in the middle of the English countryside throw in a little mystery and intrigue and a few family hidden secrets and I am putty in the authors hands Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are–Mason CooleyI began my fascination with Grand English Country Houses and Estates when I watched Upstairs Downstairs as a young girl with my mother and I still hold that fascination No matter what country I visit I always manage to find a country Estate or period property where ghosts of people and the past stirs my imagination and my interestThe House at Riverton tells the story of Grace Reeves who for decades has kept secret the truth of a poet's violent death by the lake at Riverton House in Oxfordshire Now at the end of her life 98 year old Grace's memory is taken back and she remembers something from her past a shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could Kate Morton creates intriguing characters and weaves a powerful spell slowly and beautifully in this novel and I found the read both entertaining and satisfyingA case of a little of what you fancy does you good This is my second reading of this novel having read it the first time around in 2009 and happy to report I enjoyed it every bit as much on my second reading I think readers who enjoy authors such as Kristin Hannah or Diane Chamberlain may well enjoy Kate Morton novels


  3. says:

    An enjoyable story and a beautiful historical setting marred by clumsy story telling overbearing foreshadowing and an emotional disconnect with characters


  4. says:

    This was such a delight to read I absolutely loved every single second I spent in this universe and I could have gone on reading foreverThe book includes many characters I tend to get confused by that but thankfully all of them were well developed in this case They had different personalities and character traits so I was able to easily tell them apart and picture them in my headThe Relationships between each of them were all kept on a realistic level None of them were too close or too distant Especially the amount of contactcloseness between the house residents and the working staff at Riverton Manor seemed believable to me and never over the topThe writing style was very nice and comfortable to read It was perfect for the time period the story plays in and I felt like I was a part of this world The transitions between the past and the present were done very well and it all fit together better than I would have expectedI also liked how some script pages letters E Mails and articles were added into the story This helped to explain some of the background stories in an easy way I can't stand it when characters have conversations in which they provide huge amounts of information to each other including every single little detail It's always so awkward and unnatural By providing these little extra snippets the author prevented those stiff interactions in a simple but smart wayI found the romances that took place believable as well and also rather tender I can't explain exactly what I mean by that; I was just touched by it in some way It made me feel things which does mean a lot since I'm normally not too overly excited about the romance aspects in a bookThese developing relationships had an appropriate speed especially for the time period and was kept at a convincing levelThere are also two portrayals of the aftereffects of the First World War Those weren't done unnecessarily dramatic or over the top either They were kept at bay to a believable point and I really liked and appreciated that The only little thing I have to complain about is the lack of mention of the characters ages I sometimes wasn't sure how old I should picture them I would have liked a clearer distinction of the age differences between each of them and between the years that passedThis is such a tiny little thing though It didn't really intervene with my reading experienceI truly developed a big love for everyone involved at Riverton Manor and I absolutely just need a movie or TV Show based on this fantastic book


  5. says:

    Kate Morton came into my life just under 3 years ago I don't remember how but I picked up one of her books and absolutely fell in love with her writing style characters and multi dimensional storytelling abilities After almost 3 years I've finished reading all 6 of her books; it's a tad amusing that the last one I read is actually the first book she wrote The House at Riverton or The Shifting Fog as it was previously known For me she's the ueen of historical fiction when the focus is on 'ordinary' families in a world from a century ago The House at Riverton is no exception and while not my favorite of her tomes is uite a splendid novel very reminiscent of Downtown AbbeyIn this book Grace is 100 years old and dying very soon She has a story and a secret about the past to tell her wayward grandson who's gone missing after his wife died of an aneurysm Through flashbacks and other POVs we learn about Grace's time as a maid and ladies maid in the Hartford family household We witness conversations in the current period between Grace and Ursula a film director telling the story of what happened when a family friend and renowned poet committed suicide in the 1920s at the Hartford estate We find out who actually loved whom and which family members shouldn't have been trusted All set against the gorgeous backdrop of the English countryside it's a powerful and emotional tale about fighting your desires and knowing when it's time to give inOne of the things that made this book so appealing is how similar it was to Downton Abbey There's a family torn apart by war Girls cannot inherit their father's estate Love between classes is forbidden Estates cost too much A daughter must marry into a wealthy family to survive But then it goes off on its own path with a murder an affair and a past indiscretion connecting two people who never knew until it was too late Morton can weave the most elaborate stories to warm the heart I feel such passion and connection with her words and imagery I can think of no other author who evokes such lyrical enthusiasm and despair in a scene on multiple levels that overwhelm you and excite you at the same timeWhile a majority of this book is amazing there were a few areas that I struggled with hence 4 stars The beginning is a bit too slow; it takes time to develop characters but Morton uses a few different techniues to foreshadow what's to come in the future almost crossing that invisible line with audience For example there's a paragraph ending a chapter that actually speaks to readers saying You think she should have done this but no instead she does this and this is why what happens to her later was so painful I paraphrased to not give away any spoilers but you get the basics Another concern I had was how certain storylines were left too open ended for my taste We know two characters re connect 40 years later but how why We know there was a blood relationship between two characters but was it ever acknowledged? We know one character leaves a letter to another but what happened with the gift she also left behind? Who was Lady Clementine and how did she fit into this family?Some of those were loosely explained but with a powerhouse like Morton I expect everything to be properly tied together I'm okay with vague but there needs to be some clarity on what the 'options' are as opposed to just making a statement and never exploring the follow thru aspects That said this doesn't happen in her later books so I think these were debut author style changes and definitely ones I'm glad she eventually made All said it's a must read The book is slower than others with less of a major climax but fully immersive and extravagant in other ways I am sad that it'll be at least another year before her next one


  6. says:

    Whooshing like a wind through a tunnel an angry wind that drags behind it a summer storm rushing towards me faster and faster It is my past and it is coming for me It is everywhere; in my ears behind my eyes pushing my ribsGrace is 98 years old and living in a nursing facility when a visit from a young film producer compels her to relive her past; a past that is full of secrets that she has kept to herself for the last seventy years Her story begins pre World War I in England when at the age of fourteen Grace secures a position as housemaid at Riverton House It was a time of prosperity and vitality for the inhabitants of Riverton and Grace relishes her new position She uickly becomes fascinated by Hannah and Emmeline granddaughters to her employer Lady Violet and daughters to Master Frederick Hartford When she discovers ‘The Game’ the sisters share with their brother David Grace learns that secrets are a pleasurable diversion for the trio For The Game was than its name suggested It was a complex fantasy an alternate world into which they escaped There were no costumes no swords no feathered headdresses Nothing that would have marked it as a game For that was its nature It was secret But at what point do secrets go too far?As expected with the onset of World War I life as the Riverton household understands it will inescapably alter Two young girls grow into womanhood and the desire for independence will affect both Hannah and Emmeline in different yet significant ways Grace will pine for a young man sent to war and will continue in her dedication to the family and to Hannah in particular with whom she feels a special affinity Choices will be made a tragic young poet will enter the scene and secrets will be cultivated As the reader learns the story as told by the elderly Grace in a series of flashbacks secrets are slowly revealed and some are still kept close The tension mounts throughout but not at a mad pace You can sense a build up to a shocking conclusion only parts of which have been disclosed from the start An astonishing twist made the gradual unraveling only that much gratifying by book’s end I found this to be very entertaining with a satisfying gothic like feel to the story The distinction in the social classes during the first half of twentieth century England as well as the roles and interactions of the servants in an aristocratic home were interesting elements and I thought authentically portrayed The characters were well drawn despite the fact I didn’t develop any special connection to any of them I also enjoyed contemplating the effect that the passage of time plays on a person’s memory True history the past It isn’t flat or linear It has no outline It is slippery like liuid; infinite and unknowable like space And it is changeable just when you think you see a pattern perspective shifts an alternative version is proffered a long forgotten memory resurfaces I liked this than my first Kate Morton novel The Forgotten Garden and now feel compelled to read of her work in the future Recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction and a slower paced but suspenseful plot It is a universal truth that no matter how well one knows a scene to observe it from above is something of a revelation


  7. says:

    45 I have to say spending a few grey drizzly days getting lost in this book was a lot of fun 'The Shifting Fog' also published as 'The House at Riverton' was an interesting mystery of sorts as we know from the beginning that a young poet took his life at Riverton in the sumer of 1924 witnessed by sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford who never speak to each other again In 1999 Grace Bradley is looking back on that time and it uickly becomes clear that the public version of events is far from the full storyWe alternate between the past and present and slowly small details are revealed However than a mystery it is also something of an examination of what it was to dedicate your life to service Grace was a young housemaid at Riverton Manor and the way it consumed the lives of those who worked there was fascinating At the beginning we learn 14 year old Grace has snuck her Sherlock Holmes books with her and keeps them carefully hidden in case they are taken from her'Mr Hamilton had been clear The Holy Bible was acceptable but any reading material beyond that was most likely injurious and must be presented for his approval or otherwise risk confiscation I was not a rebel indeed back then I had a fierce sense of duty but to live without Holmes and Watson was unthinkable' Not only did this instantly endear Grace to me it was also a reminder of one of the many ways used to keep people in their place something that never fails to make me bristle with anger As the book progresses I was rather delighted that perhaps one of the few brighter aspects of a war shattered country was many people uestioning this world view When it comes to the sisters I adored Hannah and felt a great deal of empathy towards her Emmeline annoyed me uite a bit especially as she got older though I did sympathise with her at times but freuently I found her an irritant I got caught up in this story than I had expected and my hands were shaking slightly as I got to the end of the book to finally confirm the truth I had suspected This was the first book by Kate Morton that I have read and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for of her workAfter I wrote that the sun came out🌞


  8. says:

    I wanted to read this book because it looked as if it had a lot of elements I really enjoy Gothic type mystery haunted house family secrets World War I the 1920s The book concerns sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford aristocratic children who grow up over the course of the book They chafe at the constraints of their class and find themselves floundering in the chaos of the 1920s The other main character in the book is the narrator Grace a housemaid at Riverton She has her own uniue connection to the Hartford sisters Grace tells the story practically from her deathbed as at 99 of the two sisters and how they witnessed a modernist poet commit suicide in 1924 Of course things aren't really as they seem and each of the characters plays a big part in the poet's death So the premise was interesting but I found the book to be kind of boring It took too long for any of the secrets to be revealed and then when they were it was really underwhelming I also wasn't a fan of the lack of denouement


  9. says:

    The House at Riverton tells the story of a Manor House in Essex during WW1 and the beginning of the 1920s told from the perspective of a housemaid now 98 and living in an old people's home in 1999 When she finds out that a film is being made of a tragic event at the house the suicide of a young poet who fought in the war she recounts her memories leading up to that night and the part she played in itOf course the story is not as simple as that and many secrets have been kept for almost 100 yearsThis book stayed with me for ages after i'd finished it I found it uite haunting and a lovely study of loyalty family and the 'butterfly' effect that our decisions can have on other people's lives


  10. says:

    This book is a must read for lovers of historical novels and enthralling well written atmospheric mysteries The House at Riverton is a literary feast for those who love writers like Margaret Atwood Ian McEwan or Daphne DuMaurier and books reminiscent of The Forsythe Saga UpstairsDownstairs and Water for Elephants In this page turner of a novel beautifully written and evocative of the era in England prior to and after World War 1 the author succeeds in weaving a complex tale of passion jealousy and intrigue utilizing the past memories of 98 year old Grace Bradley and the secret she has jealously guarded for over 60 years This jigsaw puzzle of a tale cleverly takes the various seemingly insignificant strands of Graces life and plaits them with the lives of other members of the Riverton household to form a lusterous braid with a couple of astonishing twists at its end There is literally not a hair out of place in this fascinating journey through an era of crumbling social barriers and evolving English social morals and traditions This book cries out to be made into a movie As I read I could visualize Kate Blanchett as Hannah Judy Dench as old Grace Kate Winslet as young grace Gerard Butler as Alfred Colin Firth as Frederick Keira Knightly as Emmalinewell you get the picture pun intended I look forward with great anticipation to Kate Mortons next literary offering In the meantime let me offer the following if you read only one book this year make it this one