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4 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The House at Riverton

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The House at Riverton Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. Do you think of The House at Riverton as a tragic novel? How are the characters' tragic outcomes caused by the incompatibility of what they want and who they are?

2. How important to the novel's outcome is Grace's longing for a sister? When Grace finds out about her true parentage, why does she choose not to tell Hannah? Is it the right decision? Would things have ended differently had she done otherwise?

3. Kate Morton has said that the novel's setting is as important to her as its characters, that Riverton Manor is as much a character of the book as its inhabitants. Do you agree? Does Riverton mirror the fates of the Hartford family and the aristocracy in general? If so, in what ways?

4. The First World War was a catalyst for enormous social and cultural change. Not a character in The House at Riverton is left untouched by this. Whose life is most altered? Why?

5. Is there a heroine in The House at Riverton? If so, who is it and why?

6. Grace and Robbie are both illegitimate children of upper-class parents; however, their lives and opportunities are vastly different. Why?

7. Duty is very important to the youthful Grace. Did Grace's sense of duty contribute to the novel's conclusion? If so, how? Would things have turned out better for the characters if Grace had made different decisions?

8. One of the main themes of The House at Riverton is the haunting of the present by the past. In what ways does the novel suggest that the past can never be escaped? Do you agree that our pasts are inescapable?

9. Grace has resisted ever telling anyone about the events at Riverton. Why? What makes her change her mind? Is Grace a reliable narrator? Given her motive for recording her memories, can we trust her?

10. The twentieth century was a period of great and accelerated social change. In particular, the historical years that make up the bulk of Grace's memories comprised a time of enormous transition. In what ways does Grace's life exemplify these social changes?

11. Despite their differences, how might Grace and Hannah be seen as "doubles"? How does Grace's relationship with Alfred mirror Hannah's relationship with Robbie?

12. Another theme in The House at Riverton is that of inheritance — the way we are bound to our families through various items that are passed between the generations. Along with material inheritances, we are also subject to physical, social and psychological legacies. These inheritances are important in making us who we are, and are not easily escaped. In what way is this notion explored in The House at Riverton? How do these various types of inheritance influence the lives of Hannah, Frederick, Teddy, Robbie, Grace, Jemima and Simion?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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The House at Riverton Used Trade Paper
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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."
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