Monday, July 10, 2023

Reading Books I'm Excited About - The House at Riverton + The Secret Life of Violet Grant

In 2023 my reading goals were to focus on reading books I was excited to read or had been looking forward to reading.  Here are two recent reads that met that criteria.

Goodreads:  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Blurb:   The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of "Downton Abbey," it's the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets - some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It's also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

My Thoughts  I love Kate Morton's books with their complicated characters and gorgeous settings.  Somehow I missed reading her first book and to be honest - it wasn't my favorite.  While the setting at Riverton was gorgeous and the time period from 1914 to 1924 was fascinating when I came to the end I found I just wanted more from the story.  While I don't mind an ending that is a bit more open ended in this style of book I was left with more questions that I wanted especially given the page count for this book.  As well, I don't think Morton had quite found her balance with building suspense and giving information and because of that it felt like a lot of build up for a fairly rushed conclusion.  That said it is still a Kate Morton book so I still found myself pulled into the story and couldn't help but feel connected to Grace.  This was a gorgeously atmospheric story with a plot that didn't quite live up to its surrounding.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

Goodreads:  The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Blurb:  Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate d├ętente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoyed this read!  I liked Vivian right from the beginning and loved her timeline.  The idea of this mystery suitcase was fascinating and I loved that Vivian was just as fascinated as I imagine I would be in her circumstances.  Violet's timeline took me a little longer to warm up to.  It was compelling but the red flags are basically hitting the reader in the face and I just wanted to reach into the book and warn Violet about what was to come.   I really enjoyed the Schuyler family even when they weren't the most likable and it was fascinating seeing the people in Violet's world.  I really wasn't quite sure what Vivian would uncover or just how everything would unravel but I enjoyed it from beginning to end and was well satisfied with the ending.  I'm looking forward to reading more about the other Shuyler sisters.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)


  1. I haven't read either authors but they sound good and I love both covers.

  2. I haven't read either of these authors either. I've heard many good things about them and these two books sound good.

  3. Oh no! I have The House at Riverton on my shelf so I was hoping that you would love that one.