Book: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria, 2010
Genre: Gothic Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Source + Date Read: Purchased + Jan. 2013
Recommend: Those who like alternative women, art, eastern Europe with a healthy dose of paranormal love will enjoy this.
Book Pro’s: Taylor leaves no stone untouched, so there is something for everyone!
Book Con’s: Err… This is a good sign right? I can’t think of something that pissed me off.
Kate Morton, one of my favourite authors, is the Australian award winning, bestselling craftswoman of fours novels to date. I fell in love with her unique voice and beautiful style of writing when I read The Forgotten Garden (which I often describe as “the grown-up version of The Secret Garden). She has a way of transporting readers to worlds of her own imagining. Her characters become as real as the people her readers interact with regularly.
Morton treats her pen as a seamstress would her needle. She weaves intricate tales of great detail and depth into the fabric of the page you’d never guess was once blank. Her use of words to form spine-chilling phrases and create imagery is nothing if not art. I – a writer and lover of words – constantly find myself reaching for a pen to write some of her lines, determined to learn from her work.
The Distant Hours introduces us to Edie Burchill – a book lover and editor who soon discovers her own penchant for uncovering secrets and solving mysteries. It all begins with a letter, delivered fifty years late to her stoic mother, resulting in the breakdown of a once unbreakable woman, deficient of emotion. Edie glimpses a woman she never knew. This, and the inexplicable coincidence that follows, sends her on a journey down a rabbit hole she never imagined existed.
Meredith, Edie’s mother, has never told anyone about her evacuation from London during World War II. The time she spent with three sisters in Milderhurst Castle was never meant to be shared with anyone else. No one was to know of her kinship, love, passion, or the apparent loss of them all.
Edie, fond of Raymond Blythe’s iconic The Mud Man – written in 1918 to much acclaim – is shocked to learn her mother spent considerable time living in the castle where the tale was conceived. She wonders, like many others, about the origin of such a tale. No one seems to know the answer.
There are so many questions, but none of them can be asked of a silent, secret-keeping mother with whom Edie has a strained relationship. Luck, however, is in Edie’s favour as she has a chance meeting with the Blythe sisters. One is as stiff as a glass of scotch, neat. Another is maternal and accommodating while the last sister “loses time” and often travels back to a fateful night when everything changed for her and, subsequently, her sisters. To say more about the sisters would do future-readers a great injustice. Getting to know the sisters as the pages turn is fun, interesting, and a bit unnerving. Opinions about each sister changes as more is revealed with great expertise and deftness of hand.
The Distant Hours is a story of five parts. There are multiple points of view and points in time woven seamlessly together, cementing every portion of this wonderful tale to its other parts. Morton wisely changes the time at the precise moment that results in your longing for more of the same. The mystery remains alive and well throughout the novel, only deepening when you sense oncoming revelation. It is the story of another story’s origin. It’s about books, writing, dreams, and passions.
Morton has crafted a story of family and friendship. She exposes well-kept secrets and reveals the intricacies of loyalty, love, loss, and lives dedicated to those of others. Edie is not privy to all the information Morton reveals to the reader, so it’s easy to feel special. The reader is the chosen one, trusted with the answer to every question. It’s in our nature to want to know, so this novel is a real treat for our instincts. It will keep you guessing, and while the answers are sure to be nothing you ever dreamed, you will be satisfied. This novel is not one to be devoured. The language creates imagery and mood, even making the castle a character, and it dictates a rhythm and flow the reader cannot fight. It’s best to submit and savour every bite. (I did not mean to rhyme, but there you have it. Heh!)
Who should read this:
- Book lovers
- Mystery fans
- History buffs
- Multidimensional story fans
- Language lovers
- Those who can enjoy a slow-paced novel
- Family saga lovers
Who should not read this:
- Fans of quick reads
- Fans of one story line
- The short of patience
- Plain language lovers