Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton

Summary: A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.
Synopsis and cover photo from

My Review: I adore Kate Morton's writing style, as evident from my reviews of The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. Her plots are guaranteed to contain a magical blend of past and present, always perfectly balanced with a Gothic feel. Her characters are captivating and her vivid settings are absolutely lovely. Her third novel, The Distant Hours, contains all of the above.

The Distant Hours, begins with a lost letter delivered decades after it's intended arrival date. Had this letter arrived on time lives would have been drastically altered. This tale however is not centered around the letter, it is just the starting point for a novel that details the lives of the sender, Juniper, and the recipient, Meredith. Two lives riddled with mysterious secrets.

Eddie is Meredith's daughter. As a self declared woman who is good with words but not the spoken kind, she is virtually impossible not to like. Eddie witnesses the reaction of her mother as the long-lost letter is opened and knows at once that secrets are being kept from her. Her journey to unravel her mother's mystery will bring her to Milderhurt Castle where three eldery sister live with their own tragedies and the walls speak the distant hours.

This story takes off at a pleasant leisurely pace and slowly becomes more hurried as the story progresses. By the time the mysteries are uncovered it is almost impossible to tear away from the book. Though entertaining, this novel was not of the same caliber as Morton's previous novels. Some of the situations feel a bit too convenient while the resolution contains an overwhelming amount of detail. The outcome to this mystery, while not being entirely predictable, is certainly not as surprising as I had come to expect from Morton.

These few complaints barely detract from the overall essence of Morton's writing. Fans of classics, such as Jane Eyre, will appreciate the metaphors regarding reading, books, and the power of words. Morton writes "All true readers have a book, a moment when real life is never going to be able to compete with fiction again." These moments are found with the pages of Morton's novels.

My rating: 4 Stars

To sum it up: Another beautiful work of art from Kate Morton, though by far not her best work.


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I love love love Kate morton! So nice to read this review! I enjoyed this one but Forgotten Garden was my favorite.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I have this and Forgotten Garden on my shelves...when will I ever make in progress on my TBRs??!!!

Heather said...

The Forgotten Garden is my favorite as well.


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