Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Title: The Distant Hours
Series: Standalone
Author: Kate Morton
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 11/09/2010
Publisher: Atria
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery


The #1 internationally bestselling author of The Forgotten Garden mesmerizes readers with this haunting tale of long-buried secrets and the twists of fate that can alter lives forever.

It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.


After reading a favorable review and the intriguing synopsis I eagerly anticipated reading The Distant Hours.

An old family mystery, an ancient castle, a lost letter, the story behind the story—The True History of the Mud Man. Edie, a young woman working in the publishing field, learns that her "dull" mother has a history that she knows nothing of. (Her mother was a 13-year old evacuee taken in at Milderhurst Castle, the home of the author of her favorite childhood book.) The Distant Hours parallels Edie's search for answers in the present (1992) with the lives of Persephone, Seraphina, and Juniper Blythe during the years 1939 - '41. Edie uncovers some of the answers she seeks. She also finds that some things are best left unwritten. Like the true story behind the book that made her a reader.

I found the story highly compelling overall but was mildly distracted by the minutiae of the Blythe Sister's younger years. I'm intrigued by Kate Morton's work in this novel enough to look into her other books: The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden.

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