The Fictioning Horror Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
  1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.50
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

The House at Riverton

by

The House at Riverton Cover

ISBN13: 9781416550532
ISBN10: 1416550534
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 2 left in stock at $6.50!

 

 

Excerpt

GHOSTS STIR

Last November I had a nightmare.

It was 1924 and I was at Riverton again. All the doors hung wide open, silk billowing in the summer breeze. An orchestra perched high on the hill beneath the ancient maple, violins lilting lazily in the warmth. The air rang with pealing laughter and crystal, and the sky was the kind of blue we'd all thought the war had destroyed forever. One of the footmen, smart in black and white, poured champagne into the top of a tower of glass flutes and everyone clapped, delighting in the splendid wastage.

I saw myself, the way one does in dreams, moving amongst the guests. Moving slowly, much more slowly than one can in life, the others a blur of silk and sequins.

I was looking for someone.

Then the picture changed and I was near the summer house, only it wasn't the summer house at Riverton — it couldn't have been. This was not the shiny new building Teddy had designed, but an old structure with ivy climbing the walls, twisting itself through the windows, strangling the pillars.

Someone was calling me. A woman, a voice I recognized, coming from behind the building, on the lake's edge. I walked down the slope, my hands brushing against the tallest reeds. A figure crouched on the bank.

It was Hannah, in her wedding dress, mud splattered across the front, clinging to the appliquéd roses. She looked up at me, her face pale where it emerged from shadow. Her voice chilled my blood. "You're too late." She pointed at my hands. "You're too late."

I looked down at my hands, young hands, covered in dark river mud, and in them the stiff, cold body of a dead foxhound.

I know what brought it on, of course. It was the letter from the filmmaker. I don't receive much mail these days: the occasional postcard from a dutiful, holidaying friend; a perfunctory letter from the bank where I keep a savings account; an invitation to the christening of a child whose parents I am shocked to realize are no longer children themselves.

Ursula's letter had arrived on a Tuesday morning late in November and Sylvia had brought it with her when she came to make my bed. She'd raised heavily sketched eyebrows and waved the envelope.

"Mail today. Something from the States by the look of the stamp. Your grandson, perhaps?" The left brow arched — a question mark — and her voice lowered to a husky whisper. "Terrible business, that. Just terrible. And him such a nice young man."

As Sylvia tut-tutted, I thanked her for the letter. I like Sylvia. She's one of the few people able to look beyond the lines on my face to see the twenty-year-old who lives inside. Nonetheless, I refuse to be drawn into conversation about Marcus.

I asked her to open the curtains and she pursed her lips a moment before moving on to another of her favorite subjects: the weather, the likelihood of snow for Christmas, the havoc it would wreak on the arthritic residents. I responded when required, but my mind was on the envelope in my lap, wondering at the scratchy penmanship, the foreign stamps, softened edges that spoke of lengthy travails.

"Here, why don't I read that for you," Sylvia said, giving the pillows a final, hopeful plump. "Give your eyes a bit of a rest?"

"No. Thank you. Perhaps you could pass my glasses, though?"

When she'd left, promising to come back and help me dress after she'd finished her rounds, I prised the letter from its envelope, hands shaking the way they do, wondering whether he was finally coming home.

But it wasn't from Marcus at all. It was from a young woman making a film about the past. She wanted me to look at her sets, to remember things and places from long ago. As if I hadn't spent a lifetime pretending to forget.

I ignored that letter. I folded it carefully and quietly, slid it inside a book I'd long ago given up reading. And then I exhaled. It was not the first time I had been reminded of what happened at Riverton, to Robbie and the Hartford sisters. Once I saw the tail end of a documentary on television, something Ruth was watching about war poets. When Robbie's face filled the screen, his name printed across the bottom in an unassuming font, my skin prickled. But nothing happened. Ruth didn't flinch, the narrator continued, and I went on drying the dinner plates.

Another time, reading the newspaper, my eye was drawn to a familiar name in a write-up in the television guide; a program celebrating seventy years of British films. I noted the time, my heart thrilling, wondering if I dared watch it. In the end I fell asleep before it finished. There was very little about Emmeline. A few publicity photos, none of which showed her true beauty, and a clip from one of her silent films, The Venus Affair, which made her look strange: hollowcheeked; jerky movements like a marionette. There was no reference to the other films, the ones that threatened such a fuss. I suppose they don't rate a mention in these days of promiscuity and permissiveness.

But although I had been met with such memories before, Ursula's letter was different. It was the first time in over seventy years that anyone had associated me with the events, had remembered that a young woman named Grace Reeves had been at Riverton that summer. It made me feel vulnerable somehow, singled out. Guilty.

No. I was adamant. That letter would remain unanswered.

And so it did.

A strange thing began to happen, though. Memories, long consigned to the dark reaches of my mind, began to sneak through cracks. Images were tossed up high and dry, picture-perfect, as if a lifetime hadn't passed between. And, after the first tentative drops, the deluge. Whole conversations, word for word, nuance for nuance; scenes played out as though on film.

I have surprised myself. While moths have torn holes in my recent memories, I find the distant past is sharp and clear. They come often lately, those ghosts from the past, and I am surprised to find I don't much mind them. Not nearly so much as I had supposed I would. Indeed, the specters I have spent my life escaping have become almost a comfort, something I welcome, anticipate, like one of those serials Sylvia is always talking about, hurrying her rounds so that she can watch them down at the main hall. I had forgotten, I suppose, that there were bright memories in amongst the dark.

When the second letter arrived last week, in the same scratchy hand on the same soft paper, I knew I was going to say yes, I would look at the sets. I was curious, a sensation I hadn't felt in some time. There is not much left to be curious about when one is ninety-eight years old, but I wanted to meet this Ursula Ryan who plans to bring them all to life again, who is so passionate about their story.

So I wrote her a letter, had Sylvia post it for me and we arranged to meet. Copyright © 2006 by Kate Morton

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

Gary Becker, March 31, 2013 (view all comments by Gary Becker)
Kate Morton is a wonderful writer...she's able to waft you back and forth to another time and era making her stories a delight to read. In the House at Riverton she intertwines parallel stories of families and the effects of events on each of the individuals and their ability to deal with the happenings. I was lost in the details and on the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
diane Trafton, December 28, 2012 (view all comments by diane Trafton)
The unforgettable characters in this book will long be remembered by me. Flashbacks to 1920's England and an aristocratic family, are told through the eyes of ninety eight year old Grace. During her last years in a US nursing home, she opens up a world of secrets and mystery only to be revealed in the very last pages of the book. This a memorable story which shows the reader the deep division in classes in the 1920's. As with several of Kate Morton's books, I found the first quarter of the book to be a bit slow moving but well worth the read, as action, interest and mystery soon appear and captivates.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Autumnseer, September 19, 2011 (view all comments by Autumnseer)
A lovely English tale from the point of view of one of the staff's maid, Grace, who works at Riverton House in the English countryside. She starts as a young girl working in the lowest positions downstairs and eventually moves up and becomes the private maid to the daughter, Hannah, whereupon they become quite bonded as they share several secrets throughout their lives. Eventually Grace is taken with Hannah when she marries, though in the long run she is living back at Riverton House. Along the way we get to know all the interesting characters of Riverton's family and the answer to a death that no one knows the truth about except Grace, Hannah and her sister, Emmeline. A lovely book, drawn out in interesting detail that you can take your time deliciously reading and enjoying to the last page.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 7 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416550532
Author:
Morton, Kate
Publisher:
Washington Square Press
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
England
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20090303
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.31 in 14.28 oz

Other books you might like

  1. Wit's End Used Trade Paper $1.95
  2. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a...
    Used Hardcover $2.48
  3. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze... Used Trade Paper $4.50
  4. Eclipse (Twilight Saga #3 )
    Used Hardcover $1.95
  5. Twilight (Twilight Saga #1)
    Used Trade Paper $5.50

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books

The House at Riverton Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Washington Square Press - English 9781416550532 Reviews:
"Review" by , "An extraordinary debut...written with a lovely turn of phrase. [Morton] knows how to eke out tantalizing secrets and drama." (UK)
"Review" by , "This novel will challenge your definitions of friendship, family and, most of all, trust."
"Review" by , "An extraordinary debut...written with a lovely turn of phrase. [Morton] knows how to eke out tantalizing secrets and drama."
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.