Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The House at Riverton - Part 1

Finally! Man, I didn't realize how hard it was going to be for me to carve out some time to read these days. I must apologize for getting so far behind. I hope you all aren't cursing me. "That damn Nancy can't get her act together and get going on a book club that SHE started. What a loser."
OK, so that was me cursing myself out. I'm done now.

Well, how does everyone like the book so far? I know, some of you are done already, so bear with me as I chat a bit about part 1.

It was a little slow of a start for me, but that may have more to do with my distracted brain and twitching eyebrows than the book itself. Right away I loved Morton's writing style. The character of Grace is an instant friend. I identify with her entirely. It doesn't hurt that this story starts during the Edwardian era, that the location is England and that Grace hides Sherlock Holmes novels in her dresser drawer. I may have been her in a past life as all of these elements rank high in my wheelhouse. The fact that I have obsessed over the British series Upstairs Downstairs for the past several years doesn't hurt either. If you are familiar with that show you would most likely have a pretty good grasp on the class system that existed in England at the time. What makes Grace such a compelling character is the fact that her life spans a length of time that saw many changes to that system. As a young girl she is part of the serving class but by 1999, when we are first introduced to her, she has clearly lived a life free of servitude (and accomplished some pretty interesting things as we learn in the next part... I read a little ahead.)

I don't know about you but I have already had a lot of inspiration for creating jewelry. I can't help but think of that era in jewelry with its festoon necklaces, filigree, colorful pressed Czech glass beads and long sautoir necklaces that would later transition into "flapper" strands of pearls and beads. There is mention of the suffragette movement (Hannah's amusing performance in the recital)- did you know that there was such a thing as suffragette jewelry? It was made for supporters to wear in the colors of Purple (for dignity), White (for purity) and Green (for hope). Grace wears a locket early on in the book, which I am sure will have greater significance as we delve deeper into the story. And finally, my favorite touch, how about incorporating a white satin ribbon in your creation - like the one that Hannah slips from her hair to give to Robbie as a keepsake as he goes off to war. Oh, the possibilities are already endless and that was just the first part of the book!

Let's set a date to have our books read by and our pieces ready for show and tell. How does February 15th suit everyone? I know a lot of us are doing the Bead Soup Party and that ends on the 10th, so I thought the 15th would give us enough time. Of course you can make your pieces sooner and post them to the Literary Rabbit Book Club Flickr group at any time. And who knows, maybe I will pick a random winner and give them a special prize. (ohh, what should it be???)


Andrew Thornton said...

I haven't had time to read at all. I feel like I'm starving an abused child or something.

maryharding said...

I was really interested to learn about suffragette jewelry as I was wondering about it as I read. I have finished the book but will keep it quiet about what happens. I found I could not put it down which is why I am finished and other things were let go. It is a real page turner. I suffered a bit of book withdrawal after I finished it. I guess that means it was a really good book. I miss hearing more about the characters even though there isn't more to hear. The date for posting pieces is good. Glad it is after BeadSoup.
Thanks so for doing this. It is fun. Do you consider the period as Edwardian, in terms of jewelry history?

Lorelei said...

I enjoyed the first part of the book as well. I agree that it seemed a bit slow to get going but after the first couple of chapters, it picked up at a quick pace and I enjoyed reading about Grace's job and opportunities to meet and work closely with the children.
This game they keep discussing is quite the mystery and my mind immediately started thinking about jewelry that incorporates this theme somehow.
But now I read your post about the white silk ribbon and my mind is taking my ideas to a different direction. I need to get back into part two.
I tend to be a slow reader. I hope I can finish it by the 15th.

rachellucie said...

I'm so glad you are reading that book! My boyfriend bought it me for Christmas a while ago for exactly that reason - that the period it was set in is right up my street and where I draw jewellery design inspiration from.

got to say I found it rather slow and didn't really grab me, plus I never read enough in one sitting to really get going.

BUT you have spurred me on to try again! Good for you for getting round to it, and giving me the kick up the behind I needed :)

The Joy of Nesting said...

Oye Nancy,

Like Andrew I haven't had time to start sooooooo I guess I'll be kicking into high gear this weekend. But if votes count I'd like to request we make the deadline the end of Feb instead of the middle. :) What can I say theis is the beach on the coast of Mexico. It's sinful to be in a rush!! :)

Pattie ;)
Mazatlan Mx.

Alice said...

I felt the book was a little slow to start, and I had a little trouble keeping up with the quick changes between the eras of Grace's life. Still, it was good enough for me to have finished the book in four days. I love reading about society in the different eras, and have always believed I should have been born in any era than the one I'm in right now. Not that I want to be a servant, or slave, and probably couldn't live without A/C and modern technology. But I guess it's just the romance of it all that stirs me.

Grace seemed to be mostly at ease with her life as a servant. Sometimes I wish she would have shown a little more emotion when life threw her a curve ball - like maybe stealing a horse, letting out her hair, and riding full speed to beyond the estate's perimeter. Maybe I've just read too many trashy novels in my younger days. The book did leave me wanting to hear more; more about Grace, more about the children, and more about each event that came along.

I saw lots of inspiration for jewelry, but didn't write the ideas down and now I've forgotten them. I'm interested in learning more about suffragette jewelry and will have to read up on it. Not sure if I will get a piece made by the deadline, but will sure give it a whirl!

Thank you so much for hosting this! It's been so long since I've read a book. In fact, my son teased that he didn't know I could read. Of course he was joking, but really all I have time for nowdays is flipping through magazines.