Kate Morton Books in Order (with Summaries)

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Kate Morton is the internationally-bestselling author of seven novels. Morton’s first novel, The House at Riverton, debuted in 2006, and her most recent novel, Homecoming, released on April 4, 2023. Here’s a reading guide to all the Kate Morton books in order, with summaries and my suggestion of which Kate Morton book you should read first!

Collage of Kate Morton books in order of rainbow colors

Kate Morton is one of my favourite contemporary authors. With her recent release of Homecoming (after a five-year break) I thought this would be an opportune time to summarize every Kate Morton book–and introduce her to you, if she’s a new-to-you author! For my part, there’s nothing better than checking out a Kate Morton novel when you have a long stretch of reading hours on your horizon–and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing on my next vacation!

What Kind of Books Does Kate Morton Write?

In a library or bookstore, you’d find Kate Morton books in the General Fiction section. But all of Kate Morton’s novels are a blend of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. Morton’s novels follow the points of view of multiple characters, and shift between various timelines, always matching a modern-day setting with an historical period (such as Victorian England, the 1920s, or the World Wars).

Kate Morton’s books are perfect for fans of classic Victorian literature, which is probably why I like them so much! Morton cites Victorian novels as one of her literary inspirations–in fact, she wrote her Master’s thesis on tragedy in the novels of Thomas Hardy!

Like many Victorian-era novels, Morton’s books are long (clocking in at 500+ pages); with multiple, interweaving plotlines; a large cast of characters; and unabashed use of coincidence to tie certain aspects together. Not surprisingly, these attributes are some of the things that people also hate about Kate Morton’s books–read a negative review, and you’re sure to see complaints about length, complexity, or coincidences! Therefore, when you embark on a Kate Morton novel I recommend that you do so with an unhurried, go-with-the-flow mindset.

All of Kate Morton’s novels are lush, dreamy, and immersive. She’s going to take you on a journey into the past, and into the dramas and dilemmas of characters you can practically touch through the page. Let it all unfold, and rest assured that even though these aren’t nail-biting page turners, there will be plenty of plot twists along the way. (You’re sure to see some coming, but there are so many twists in each of her books that others will certainly surprise!) Her books are like puzzles, not in the sense that they are logical mind-benders, but that there are so many interlocking pieces, and you don’t get the full picture until the very end.

I see a lot of recurring themes in Kate Morton’s books, including memory, identity, loss, the repercussions of choice, conflicting standards of morality, truth, the passage of time, innocence, home, belonging, and the way one’s perspective can shift from childhood to old age. Another thing Morton is known for (and I love), are her evocative settings, often centered around memorable houses full of stories and secrets.

Many of Kate Morton’s fans appreciate that she doesn’t feel the need to include obligatory sex scenes in her books. Although she deals with some heavy themes, they’re handled in a compassionate and sensitive way. Kate Morton’s books are an excellent pick for a book club, or for a mother-daughter read, if you’re lucky enough to have a teenage daughter at home! As always, if you want to vet a book before reading it or suggesting it to a friend, you can use my method for checking books for content considerations and trigger warnings.

If you’re looking for a contemporary author whose books have an old-fashioned feel and love historical fiction or neo-Gothic literature, Kate Morton is for you! You can keep up with the latest news, events, and interviews on Kate Morton’s author website.

Read on for a list and summary of all the Kate Morton books in order!

Collage of Kate Morton books

Kate Morton Books in Order

The House at Riverton (also published as The Shifting Fog) (2006)

Ninety-eight-year-old Grace Bradley recounts the story of her life to a young filmmaker who’s asking questions about a tragedy that occurred in the summer of 1924. Back then, Grace was a maid at Riverton Manor in the county of Essex, England. From her “downstairs” perspective, Grace knows all about the aristocratic Hartford family–including their darkest secrets. The intrigue comes to a head when a promising young poet commits suicide at a glitzy society party on the Riverton grounds. There’s more to the story and Grace knows what it is…and after seventy years, she may finally be willing to tell it all.

Good for fans of: Films like Titanic, Downton Abbey, Gosford Park, and books like The Great Gatsby.

The Forgotten Garden (2008)

On the eve of World War I, a little girl is abandoned on a ship bound for Australia. She arrives with only a few clothes and a book of fairy tales, but a kindly dockmaster and his wife decide to raise her as their daughter. On her 21st birthday, Nell’s adoptive parents reveal that she is not their biological daughter, and Nell embarks on a quest to discover her origins. Decades later the quest is taken up by Nell’s granddaughter, Cassandra, who discovers the roots of the secret in the overgrown garden of Blackhurst Manor, on the windswept coast of Cornwall.

Good for fans of: Fairy tales, The Secret Garden, and Victorian orphan stories.

The Distant Hours (2010)

The Distant Hours is Kate Morton’s darkest novel, with a truly Gothic feel. In the not-so-distant past of the 1990s, Edie Burchill goes to Milderhurst Castle to see the place where her mother lived as a child evacuee during World War II. The mouldering castle is home to a trio of spinster sisters, one of whom, it’s rumored, fell into madness after her lover jilted her long ago. The timeline shifts between the war era and modern day, as Edie gradually learns the secrets of the castle, the sisters, and her mother’s own tangled past.

Good for fans of: Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, and Gothic literature.

The Secret Keeper (2012)

The year is 1961, and 16-year-old Laurel Nicolson is hiding in her treehouse when she witnesses her beloved mother, Dorothy, commit a shocking crime right on the doorstep of the Nicolson farmhouse. For fifty years, Laurel never reveals to anyone what she saw, but as her mother’s life draws to a close in 2011, she realizes this may be her last chance to discover the truth about that fateful day.

The narrative deftly shifts between the present and WWII before and during the Blitz, as the reader learns about a young Dorothy, her friends, and the impact their choices had on Laurel and her family decades later.

Good for fans of: World War II historical fiction.

The Lake House (2015)

At a midsummer’s eve party in 1933, baby Theo Edevane vanishes from his family’s lakeside estate without a trace. Seventy years later, Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow stumbles upon the abandoned and now overgrown Edevane estate. Intrigued by the unsolved mystery, Sadie tracks down Theo’s older sister, Alice, who has spent years trying to silence the memories of that indelible summer.

Good for fans of: Detective fiction.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2018)

Kate Morton’s most intricate novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter begins outside Victorian London, with a group of young artists who are determined to have a fruitful summer at Birchwood Manor on the Thames. But tragedy strikes the group when someone is murdered, a woman disappears, and an heirloom jewel goes missing.

A century and a half later, archivist Elodie Winslow discovers a sepia photograph of a beautiful woman, and along with it, an artist’s sketch of Birchwood Manor. But why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? Elodie delves into the secrets of the past to find out.

Good for fans of: Victorian literature and ghost stories.

Homecoming (2023)

Kate Morton’s most recent book is Homecoming, and is the first of her novels to be set primarily in her native Australia. It’s Christmas Eve in 1959, and a horrible discovery is made on the Turner family estate in the Adelaide Hills. In 2018, a journalist named Jess finds a true crime book chronicling the largely unsolved Turner family tragedy. Jess uses her investigative skills to uncover the truth–including her own connection to the long-ago crime.

Interestingly, Homecoming is actually a book-within-a-book, as chapters from the true crime book are interspersed throughout the narrative.

Good for fans of: True crime stories.

Which Kate Morton Book Should You Read First?

All of Kate Morton’s books are standalone novels and can be read in any order. However, if you want an opinion of which Kate Morton book you should start with, I suggest beginning with The Lake House. This is her fifth novel and shows her fully-developed style, with a good display of her typical themes. It also includes a rich, evocative setting in the Loeanneth house.

Collage of Kate Morton book covers

Are you a fan of Kate Morton? What do you think is the best Kate Morton book?

Other Authors and Book Lists You Might Enjoy

Kate Morton Books in Order (with Summaries)Kate Morton Books in Order (with Summaries)
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27 Comments

  1. Just like a Morton coincidence, Homecoming happens to my current read. It is BEAUTIFULLY written. I’m finding this one to be a page turner. Love your blog!

  2. I LOVE Kate Morton’s novels. Our Book Club read The Forgotten Garden. Then I read The Lake House because I loved the Forgotten Garden so much. I can’t wait to read Homecoming.
    I also love the Tea and Ink Society website and emails!

    1. Thank you, Sherri! I can imagine Kate Morton’s books would be so good for book clubs because there’s lots of “what would you do in that situation?” conversations you could have!

  3. I have not read any Kate Morton’s Novels. I would like to read “The House At Riverton”. I prefer to read an author;s first book. Congratulations on your pregnancy. God Bless. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy.
    Marilyn

  4. Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors, too. I’ve read 2 of her books: The Lake House (which is my favourite of the two) and The Forgotten Garden. I have the rest of her books on my TBR but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet.

    1. They do take a designated chunk of time to get through, with those page counts! But how nice that you have those books waiting for you to anticipate and savor!

  5. I want to start at the beginning Book 1 “The House AT Riverton”
    Congratulations Elise. You will be in my prayers .
    Marion

  6. I haven’t read any Kate Morton novels yet, but you’ve encouraged me to get started. Thank you! I love your newsletter and website.

  7. Elsie–
    I am so happy for you! Congratulations1 I will keep you and your baby (and family!) in prayer!
    I will check out Kate Morton and her novels on my next library trip.

  8. Elsie,
    Thank you for featuring Kate Morton novels. I ‘discovered’ her myself last year, when I stumbled upon The Distant Hours and read it during my covid recovery. I also recently read The Forgotten Garden, and now, thanks to your blog, I’m encouraged to read more of her books. I appreciate that they’re clean, imaginative, lengthy and engaging.
    This is my first time commenting, though I found your blog many months ago. I see from comments that you are expecting: congratulations! I am a mom of 8, so that is familiar territory to me! 🙂
    Many blessings to you and yours,
    Melisa

    1. A Kate Morton book is a great sick read! Yes, we are expecting another little one! (And yay for big families…I grew up in one and think it’s pretty great!) Thank you for reading Tea and Ink!

  9. Elsie,
    You amaze me with all your terrific reading suggestions and descriptions. I have been enjoying your blog for some time now. Thank you! I fear I’ll never have time to get though all the books I want to read. Please share how you get so much reading in. You’re a busy mom with one on the way. Congratulations! Praying for you.
    Mary

    1. Thank you! It is sad that we’ll never get to all the book we want to, but better to read some of them than not to have read at all, right? The best thing that helps me move forward with the books I’ve started are having designated reading times on both a daily and weekly basis. The daily reading times are usually a chapter before breakfast (unless we have somewhere to rush out to that day), and reading about 4 evenings per week. The weekly-basis reading time is Sunday afternoon; it’s nice to have a chunk of reading time in the middle of the day, when I don’t have a pressing chore I need to get to! More of my “get more reading in” ideas are in these posts:

      Fastest way to get back into reading
      Read more when you have young children at home
      Why adults don’t read as much as they should
      Reading tips from fellow book bloggers

  10. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of her books. My aunt is the one who introduced me to her books. She recommended The Forgotten Garden so I started there. I own Homecoming but haven’t started it yet. I tell people to either start with Lake House or The Forgotten Garden.

  11. Would you say one of these books is the “gentlest” to start with if one is especially sensitive to grief/tragedy etc?

    1. Hmmm, maybe The Secret Keeper. All of Morton’s books do have tragedy in them, but I feel like it’s all done sensitively, to be honest. Or there is redemption that comes afterward, or the perspective of time, or healing. Her books deal with such long stretches of life, that for some of the characters you get to see what came *after* the tragedy, even years down the road, and it can be redeemed or understood over time. There’s definitely wistfulness in all of her books and sometimes it’s very contemplative, but Kate Morton is definitely NOT a “downer” if that makes sense! Her books are satisfying.

  12. Hi Elsie, I found your blog recently when I was looking for different editions of L.M. Montgomery’s books. I’m looking to replace my childhood editions, which I’ve literally read the covers off of. 🙂 In looking around I found this post about Kate Morton, who is my favorite contemporary author. I love your summaries and analysis! Every time I get a new Kate Morton it takes me a long time to start it, because I’m already sad that I’ll finish it at some point. So silly, but so real. My favorite of hers is either The Lake House or The Secret Keeper, I love how she creates such rich, detailed settings and atmospheres.
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!!
    Kristy in California

    1. Hi Kristy! Welcome! I hope the Montgomery editions post gave you some good ideas. I feel the same way about Kate Morton books…it’s nice to savour the experience! I’m glad her books are so long, since she publishes them so far apart!

  13. I have read and very much enjoyed The Clockmaker’s Daughter and The House at Riverton. I’ll be trying more of Morton’s books – thank you for reminding me how many there are!!!

  14. I stopped reading Kate Morton after Riverton. All she had to do was say it wasn’t shorthand she was learning and all of the drama could have been avoided. She never showed remorse for what she had done.

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