Monday, February 04, 2008

Review: The House At Riverton

Here's the review of "The House At Riverton" that I posted at today. I called the review 'Romantic Tragedy' and gave it four stars.

Review of Uncorrected Proof. The House At Riverton is a fascinating and extremely well-written novel which has already met acclaim in Australia and England so it's not exactly fair to call it a "New" book. I found the book to be absorbing and difficult to put down. Though ocassionally confusing, the flashbacks are effective because they reflect the mental state of the narrator as she dies of old age and reminisces on her life. The narrator is Grace Bradley, who began work as a housemaid at the age of 14, shortly before World War One, and graduates to being a lady's maid. She tells stories of her life in the Riverton House which belonged to the Hartford family, as she watches the lives of Hannah and Emmeline Hartford from the viewpoint of the invisible house servant. We see Hannah struggle to break out of the mold of women in Edwardian society as the world changes around her. We feel the helplessness of those struggling to help traumatized soldiers who returned from the war. While certainly not a mystery in the classic murder-mystery sense, the plot revolves around setting the stage to explain how a poet was killed at Riverton in the summer of 1924. Along the way there is plenty of scandal to be hushed-up, with multiple adulterous affairs, children born outside of marriage and denied their heritage, and the seduction of 17-year-old Emmeline into erotic films, drinking and partying. An interesting tale of British High Society during the 1910s and 1920s.

No comments: