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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on it's envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother's emotional distance masks an old secret.
Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl , Edie's mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of a 1918 children's classic, The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie's mother. She discovers the joy of books and fantasy and writing, but also the dangers.
Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother's riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance in 1941 plunged her into madness.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins  to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
Dr S bought me this book two Christmases ago, it has been languishing in my TBR pile but it has certainly been worth the wait.
At 670 pages, it is pretty lengthy but I believe it to be Kate Morton's best yet, I finished it over three days ago and can't stop thinking about it. I'm not going to give you any more information on the plot as I think everything you need is in the above synopsis. Mysteries and Secrets are the key to this book, Morton jumps back and forth in time tying the present and past neatly together. Milderhurst Castle is as much of a character as any of the human ones, with it's tower, secret passages and hidden doors, it is the perfect place for keeping secrets, now and then.
Edie is the character who ties everyone together, she is the one in search of answers. The Blythe Sisters are a fantastic creation, they almost seem fairytale like, three princesses locked away in a crumbling castle with no chance of rescue. I loved how Kate Morton builds up a picture of each sister as an individual whilst also exploring and exposing the bond they share as a formidable threesome.
The Distant Hours draws you in and then holds on very tightly. I think that Kate Morton has a brilliant ability of creating stories and characters that you entirely believe in and want more and more of. As I said, this book is quite long but at no point did I find myself feeling bored. Kate Morton makes every description and encounter between characters count and I think that is what makes her such a fantastic writer.

Dot Scribbles Rating: 5/5

6 comments:

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful review! Kate Morton is a master story-teller and this book is very powerful. I loved how you compared the three sisters to three fairy-tale princesses locked up in a crumbling castle. So very true! I'm glad you enjoyed the novel, Dot.

Vivienne said...

I loved The House of Riverton, but I never got around to reading her next two books, which is a shame. I must rectify that.

Dot said...

Irena- thank you, I'm so glad that I eventually got round to reading it!

Vivienne- This one was ever so good!

Jo said...

I have loved her previous books so I know I will like this one, which maybe why I have not picked it up yet.

Must otherwise it will be 3 years on my shelf to read.

Nikki-ann said...

This sounds like a great reason, despite the length! Another book I thnk I'll have to pick up :)

Dot said...

Jo- I knew I would enjoy it so I waited till I had a bit of time so that I didn't have to rush through it!

Nikki-ann- It was long but I enjoyed every page!

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