Friday, February 12, 2010

The House at Riverton – Food For Thought & Sat. Blog Showcase

Riverton book review, tea service close-up

This is the third Food for Thought meme I'm joining,
the brainchild of the very talented Jain from Once in Blue Moon and of Food With Style.
My book club is reading a trilogy of "help" books.
The House at Riverton being the second in the series.
Rating: ****

The Help by Kathryn Stockett was first.
Last will be The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

It is hard to believe The House at Riverton was the debut novel for Kate Morton!
She immerses readers in the dramas of the prominent British Ashbury family,
at their crumbling English country estate known as Riverton.
In the years surrounding World War I, an age when aristocratic privilege &
civility unravel into the roaring Twenties,
Ms. Morton recreates the period with a deft hand & beautifully crafted prose.
What could be more British than afternoon tea & scones
to reflect the era of this book?
Riverton tea cupblueberry scone 8
(recipe courtesy of Lori at All That Splatters Thanks, Lori!)

Blueberry Scones

2-1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup blueberries, frozen
1 scant cup cream
Additional cream & sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 450 F. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add cream and frozen blueberries to dry ingredients. Mix lightly with fork until mixture forms a stiff dough. Knead on floured board just to incorporate all flour; try not to damage berries.

Roll into 7-inch round and cut into 6 or 8 wedges. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheet; brush tops with additional cream and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes.
I think I rolled them too thin but they taste delicious!
blueberries ii
Made with Frozen BLUEBERRIES from my parent’s
(now my sister’s) own bushes.
Thanks Sis for doing the picking!
blueberry scone 7

Sprinkled with vanilla sugar

prior to baking.
Thanks for the inspiration to use this, Gypsy Chef.

blueberry scone jam 4
Topped with homemade grape-walnut jam from the same family GRAPE arbor.
The era in which the book takes place & the family it featured are very formal.
They had serving pieces for many different dishes…
fish forks, olive forks, tomato servers.
The round flat spoon, above is known as a jam spoon & was popular at that time.
Clotted cream would have also been a traditional topping
but since I'm trying to do low fat cooking lately,
I didn't make any.

Riverton book review, tea service

The story is told in flashback by one of the family's parlor maids,
Grace Bradley, now a retired archeologist.
When she first began to work at Riverton, she was the same age as Hannah,
who visits her uncle & aunt, Lord & Lady Ashbury,
at Riverton House with her siblings Emmeline & David.
At the age of 98 & living out her last days in a nursing home,
Grace is contacted by a filmmaker
who is doing a movie about the family.
Riverton book review, tea cups & food
It seemed like Grace & the rest of the servants at Riverton were constantly serving tea to someone.
In England, the traditional time for afternoon tea was
four or five o'clock &
no one stayed after seven o'clock.
It consisted of tea, with either milk or lemon, bread, butter and cakes.
Sometimes tiny sandwiches or savories were included.
blueberry scones sideboard 3
Through Grace’s eyes we follow a riveting plot &
a touching but tense love story with a haunting ending.
We are treated to tantalizing secrets & dramas as Morton methodically
reveals how passion & fate transpired the night of a lavish soirée
by the lake at Riverton.
Entertaining right up to the very end, the climactic revelation,
had me rushing to turn the pages fast enough.
The frequent flashbacks towards the end of the book frustrated
me & were the only reason I didn't give this
book 5 stars.
Morton's characters are very evocative of the period with beautiful descriptions
rendering a view into a fascinating time in history.
It clearly depicted the contrasting social rankings of
the British aristocracy against the working class.
Riverton book review, sugared nuts
In the book, sugared nuts were mentioned as a treat for the children at Christmas time.
I've put mine in my sugar skuttle but they used
paper cones like these.

Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will find this is a moving, emotional &
extremely memorable story that will stay with you long after
you've closed the book & put it away.
I prefer my tea with a wee bit of milk,
beside a nice warm fireplace.
Won't you join me?

Strawberry mousse in chocolate cups,
topped with fresh raspberries.

(I'm saving these for tomorrow's Valentines Day dessert)

Did you know the Australian edition of the book was published under a different name?
It was called The Shifting Fog, after the poem that Robbie wrote & read for Hanna.
Kate Morton is a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art &
English literature & is working on her doctorate at the University of Queensland.
She lives with her family in Brisbane, Australia,
which is near where my step-son & his wife also reside.
I look forward to reading her second offering, The Forgotten Garden.
Thank you, Jain, for hosting this fun meme every other Saturday.
I must have placed at least 10 sticky notes throughout the book
as I read, marking the mentioning of food!!
Riverton book

I'm also participating in the Saturday Blog Showcase

co-hosted by Lori at

All that Splatters

and Ann at

Thibeault's Table
It is Lori's turn to host the Blog Showcase this week.
Try a new recipe each week that another blogger has shared.
Prepare the recipe during the week then link your post to Saturday Blog Showcase.
Include the recipe in the body of your post
(if it is not a copyright violation to do so)
and a link back to the recipe on the originating blog.


  1. What a beautiful Review!!! You set up everyhting so perfectly and looks so nostalgic ...esp for people whose countries were once colonies of England...nothing more english than tea and scones.

    The book sounds so intriguing..i'll look it up soon ..tq I enjoyed the photos so much!! what a beautiful home u have too!

  2. Rett-This is now on my reading list! I remember a movie a few years ago about British "help". Your pictures are perfect and you are lucky to have access to fresh blueberries. I have never made scones and this is on my "to do" list also! Thanks for the tip on the other "party"!

  3. Oh Rett - what a beautiful post! Your silver set is GORGEOUS! Your scones look delicious. I'm off to Amazonn to find the book -it looks like something I would really enjoy -

  4. great review!!! I would love to read that one. Your tea is lovely as are those faublous scones!!!!

  5. Rett, You have captured the essence of "Riverton" beautifully!What gorgeous photographs of your table setting for tea! We can be with you in spirit if not actually at your "gazebo house". Thanks for sharing your blog with your Lansbrook/Melrose neighbors!


  6. You set a very beautiful tea table yourself, my friend. This was a spectacular post. The scones look wonderful and the review was spot on. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  7. Rett! This is not only a great book review, but some exquisite photography! Loved this post!

    And I am wild over your samovar and silver service. So pretty!

    I didn't know that such a thing as vanilla sugar existed... could there be such bliss???

    I want to read that book. I love period novels set in England, and this sounds like a good read. Thanks for the heads up.

    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Valentine's Day!


    Sheila :-)

  8. Hi Rett...

    The scones look sooo yummy. I've never seen vanilla sugar...I'll have to check that out.

    Your silver is stunning!

    What a lovely post.

    Warm blessings,

  9. Rett, this is sheer delight! I've read THE HELP and now will definitely pick up THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON. This one definitely sounds like my kind of book. Your review is perfect. I like most stories set in the English country side. And the tea service is exquisite. Love all the food details. Wish I were sitting there at The Gazebo visiting with you over a cup of tea, my sweet friend.
    Happy Valentine's Day! I look forward to your next review. ~ Sarah

  10. Hi Rett...

    Ohhh...what a grand review, my friend! I love historical fiction and would just adore this trilogy! I'll be looking for it! Thank you so much! Also, your tea was fabulous, my dear...seriously...fabulous!!! Such eye candy to behold! Your blueberry scones and strawberry mousse just looks divine!!! Ohhh yes, I would love to sit down at your tea...thank you, Rett!!!

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!
    Chari @Happy To Design

  11. This is definitely my kind of novel. I'm dashing to put it on hold right now, and your tea setting is fabulous. Add a few of those 'savories' and that could be my main meal for the day

  12. oh i LOVED this book, how fun to SEE it! your tea and scones, so very proper, so very pretty! isn't it fun how you are learning and sharing so much from so many other great bloggers, and to see your home grown grapes again is wonderful!

    your silver looks so regal, just like the manor house~ oh i would love to share a cup of tea and devour all your treats as we chatted about riverton, but if you don't mind, i think i could plunk myself right down by your fireplace, that mouse has my name on it, right?!

    i didn't know about the other book name, i read quite a few Australian books and they are marketed so different in the states. i loved the forgotten garden too, she is an engrossing read for me. i hope you are having fun with food for thought, i love all the sticky notes i use too, it is wonderful sharing books this way, don't you agree, it makes reading an interactive sport!

    thank you so much for playing, I LOVED it and its great how you combined all the memes together, brilliant. i look forward to seeing white tiger next time, nothing like a good preview to wet our whistle!

  13. I have done nothing romantic this year for Valentines~ You have put me to shame..We are having a friend for dinner but i made a lemon tart! Look at all your dainty desserts..Very pretty and the book sounds good..What a review~

  14. Thanks for visiting my blog! Do you have any of your needlepoint projects pictured? I"ll have to take a look through some of your old posts. I have heard that smocking is hard... that is one thing I have never tried.
    Your blueberry scones look delicious!

  15. As usual, you have done a spectacular job with your table setting----where in the world do you store all these things? Move over Martha Stewart----I sure wish she could see your wonderful creations.


  16. Lovely post. Your tea set is very beautiful and your scones look perfect.

  17. Hi Rett!!!
    You have convinced me to go out and get this book, I feel like I was there in it, by your lovely presentation!!!!!The delights you made are making me crave those sweets!!! I love blueberries and they look wonderful, how wonderful to have a bush of blueberries in the familY!!!! Vanilla sugar, I ahd not heard of that before, how wonderful!!!!
    You are going to have a lovely day on Valentine's day celebrating with your family!!!!
    I so wish I was there with you for some afternoon tea!!!!!

  18. Hi Rett,

    Thanks for a great review of our latest book. Very well said. I, too, enjoyed the book very much. I'm looking forward to the next book, which apparently is quite different. Your blog is terrific and so are your photos!


  19. Beautiful post... and grape walnut jam sounds amazing!!! I just wanted to dip my spoon in and have a scone!!!

  20. Thanks for the great tip on the teapot napkin rings, i can see you would love those too, I enjoyed your post so much, thanks for sharing it and thanks for the web sight for the napkin rings...Phyllis

  21. Rett, this was so elegant. The author would be deeply touched by your review.
    You'd asked about my camera. I've been getting good results with Canon products. I like my husband's Rebel T1i. It's lightweight and you can be taking pictures minutes after taking it out of the box. The photos I took for this Met Monday were taken in poor light but they came out crisp and sharp. If you have any other questions, let me know. I am trying to teach myself as I go, but I am happy to share what works for me.


  22. HI!!!
    Excited to hear about your Sunday brunch!!!!
    Hope your day was love-ly!!!
    You are a love-ly gracious host!!! And wife, and Mom and Grandmother!!!!
    What do your Grandkids call you????
    We went to a high school friend of my husband and I and her daughter's husband ended up also being a great friend of our son in law(I know what a small world) any who, she goes by GIGI!!!!!
    I love to know what other Grandmother's are called!!!!
    I had a Mamaw and a Grandma!!!!
    My kids had so many Grandmothers, they had all kinds of unique names for them one was grandma with the red hair!!!!

  23. HI,
    I got off track with my it's a small world comment, we went to her Grandson's 2nd Birthday party today!!!!
    It was 75 and gorgeous outside!!!
    But wanted to explain why I told you we knew her!!!
    sorry about that,

  24. What an artful presentation! It was all so wonderful. I am also intrigued by the grape walnut jam.

  25. Hi Rett, what a lovely, lovely presentation! Beautiful photos ~
    Your scones look so delicious, and your gorgeous silver makes it all fit for royalty.

    I'm putting this book on my ever-growing list of 'must reads', thank you for sharing it and the terrific review. xo ~m

  26. Rett~ you're in good company...I was fortunate to be a member of the Darling Bakers with these talented cooks. I adore them, Jane is a wonderful hostess.
    Your review was wonderful I could almost taste your blueberry scones and tea. Your photos brought the book to life. thanks for sharing.

    Sweet wishes,

  27. I love your post. The scones and strawberry mousse look delicious and visually very appealing. You have pretty teaset and crystal and china, too. Thanks for sharing your tea party!


  28. Oh my. I really want to join your book club. Elegant and lovely. The scones look delicious. And the book sounds really intriquing.

  29. I would love to join you at that beautiful tea! The scones look delicious!

    When did you receive the little package? I'm sorry if it arrived after Valentine's Day.

    I just did my Cloche Party post, you are invited, come on over!


  30. Just to let you know,Rett..I have some Strawberry Scones baking, as we speak. Your recipe sounded so so good...I had to make a few changes...1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour, Splenda instead of sugar, I had no cream but did have some Sour cream I needed to use..(added a bit more Splenda), no blueberries but wonderful strawberries..I added vanilla and cinnamon to mine..they are smelling awfully good....will let you know.
    Thanks so much for the recipe..
    xo bj

  31. OMGosh, Strawberry Scones are so good, we don't want to quit eating them. Whew....
    I'll post soon and will link back to your recipe, if that's ok!!?


Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I read them all & each one is so very special to me & I try really hard to return the visit!