A poignant and evocative story of life, families, and secrets—and oh, those secrets. All families have secrets, and they are best taken to the grave. There are exceptions, but for the most part, revealing long held family secrets only serves to destroy the lives of those who are alive. In this story, many secrets are revealed. Some are hurtful to those who learn them, some are not. It made for interesting reading.
But of course, those who live in memories are never really dead.
As I read this story, I found my own mortality staring me in the face. Our main character has 20+ years on me, but still the fact that she is nearing the end of her life is always there. I found the end of the story touching and unnerving at the same time. The author did add in some lighthearted “aging” moments, and this I one could total relate to:
This morning he smiled over his glasses and told me how well I was looking. When I was younger, still in my eighties, vanity would have had me believe him. Now I recognize such comments as kindly expressions of surprise I’m still alive.
Since I’ve stopped coloring my hair, and let it go (beautifully, thank you ever so) white, I’ve found young people showing more deference to me. They open doors, give me seats, help me with things in the store—and I never ask, they just do. It’s touching and unnerving all at the same time. Now I’ll always think … they’re surprised this ol’ woman is still moving and alive. HA!
Anyhow, back to our story. As it began I really didn’t connect with most of the characters, and I found myself not really caring about many of them—they were shallow and selfish; but Kate Morton told a good story and took me from not caring about the characters, to caring and hoping for a better life for all of them.
She looked at me, the tremors of a frown plucking at her brow. “There’s future enough as a lady’s maid, my girl,” she said, voice strained thin. “But happiness . . . happiness grows at our own firesides,” she said. “It is not to be picked in strangers’ gardens.”
This is a good comment on many of the characters in this book, and so many people I meet in life. They kept searching for happiness everywhere but inside themselves.
While this book was not quite as good as her “The Forgotten Garden”, it was still a wonderful first offering from this author. It touched my heart on many levels, and so it earns 5 stars from me and a place on my top reads for 2012.
Title: “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton
Rate: 5/5 (a top read for 2012)
Comments: Started: 7/31 Finished: 8/6