Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The House at Riverton

Book:  The House at Riverton
Author:  Kate Morton
Like/Don't Like:  If only I had known I would be so bored with it I would have quit reading

Let's talk about foreshadowing for a sec.  I feel it is a device bested used in small, subtle amounts.  If it's going to be used it needs to be just enough to give the reader an inkling that something is coming without making them try to guess what that something is through the entire story.  One of my least favorite phrases to read in a novel is, "If only we had known what we know now." It gives the entire book away.  Suddenly, I know that there's going to be a twist so I miss out on it because I'm anticipating it. When a twist comes I want to be so surprised that I go back and reread it to catch any hints that might have been there.  What I don't want to do is shrug.  There was a lot of shrugging going on while I was reading.   

So there was a lot of foreshadowing in this book.  And absolutely zero surprises.  Which made reading it a bit of a drag.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  You don't even know what it's about.  This 98 year old woman Grace is recounting her time as a maid in a big fancy English house during and just after World War I.  She is intrigued by and mysteriously drawn to the family she is serving and the story really becomes more about them than her.  There are quite a number of subplots and characters, none of them adding anything to the actual story.  There is a lot of telling and not a lot of doing.  All that foreshadowing felt like a weak substitute for what was happening in the moment - which was very little.  There just wasn't a whole lot of action.  And I could barely muster any feelings for the characters.  They were so underdeveloped, I felt like they were just there to move the story along and get to the big climactic ending - which wasn't nearly as climactic as it could have been.  The whole thing felt really contrived and a lot was sacrificed for an ending that was a let down.


Amanda said...

I felt so sad by this review that I had to comment. I just hate wasting time on a bad book. Hope your next book is a hit.

Rach said...

I'm with Amanda. There's not a lot worse than investing time in a mediocre book. It's like going to the fanciest restaurant in town and finding a bug in your salad.