Downton-esque

The House at
Riverton
by Kate Morton
Well, that was lucky.
I wouldn’t’ve read this book except that it was assigned reading.
And I’m actually glad I read it. It’s one of those.
The happy coincidence to the timing of my reading this book is
that I (like half the planet) just finished watching the second season of Downton Abbey, which is also set in a humungo English country house
in the early 1900s. 
One of the things people either love or hate about this book is
that it actually starts in the current day, with an elderly woman named Grace
remembering back to her days as a lady’s maid at Riverton. So there are
flashbacks. I actually love the whole flashback thing in a book, especially
when it’s one of those end-of-life flashback situations (like in Penelope
Lively’s Moon Tiger and Susan
Minot’s Evening).
It’s clear from the start that all hell broke loose (are you listening, Elmore?) at
some point way back when, because there was a big honking scandal, and now a
filmmaker is making a movie about it. So Grace is forced to face the ugly old truth
again for the first time in eons.
So then we flit back in time to the days just before WWI, when the
rich and entitled (and titled) were
toodling around their grand estates, and poor young Grace was a clueless new
housemaid. And it’s a pretty darn good little story, as long as you can
tolerate all those young, beautiful, entitled sorts. (They can be a bit hard to
stomach.) It helps a lot that we’re hearing the story from the perspective of the former maid, because she’s more down with the people, you know?
I actually liked the last page best. Not because the book was over
(I’m not being snide!) but because of the way it reveals the way everything
went so very wrong… and how things also turned out so well for Grace. 
Recommended as a remedy for Downton withdrawal. 

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