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The Distant Hours
The Distant Hours
Author: 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 Millderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its 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 ch...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781439152782
ISBN-10: 1439152780
Publication Date: 11/9/2010
Pages: 480
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 82 ratings
Publisher: Atria
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed The Distant Hours on + 1669 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
First Line: Hush... Can you hear him?

Three elderly sisters live in a crumbling castle in the south of England, closely guarding their secrets, until the chance delivery of a 50-year-old letter to the mother of London book editor, Edie Burchill.

As a teenager, Edie's mother was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle during the Blitz and lived with author Raymond Blythe and his three daughters, twins Persephone and Seraphina, and Juniper. When Edie has an opportunity to read her mother's letter and to learn that her mother actually lived with the author of her favorite children's book, The True History of the Mud Man, she naturally wants to learn all she can about her mother's time there, the castle, and the Blythes. The thick, sticky spiderweb of secrets she blunders into has been in place for decades, and as they are exposed to the light of day, there will be repercussions for them all.

I loved Morton's first two books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. The author's descriptive, atmospheric writing swept me away into these stories for long periods of time, and when I came up for air, I had to blink a few times to bring the world into focus. Not so with The Distant Hours.

With the exception of The True History of the Mud Man-- a children's book written by one of the characters-- which is truly creepy and stirred the hair on the back of my neck, I was never transported by the story. The book felt too much like the gothic romances by Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt I read as a teenager.

Although Morton's characterizations are as excellent as they were in her first two books, once the cast of characters was in place, it was relatively easy for me to decipher all the secrets and know what happened at Milderhurst Castle. And... since I wasn't transported by the story, the book felt bloated and very slow-moving.

Has this put me off Kate Morton's writing? No. Besides, I really wouldn't call this a "bad" book, merely an average one. I enjoyed her first two books so much that I'll still be watching for the next.
reviewed The Distant Hours on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I purchased The Distant Hours because I found myself lost in the beautiful stories Kate Morton created in "The House at Riverton" and especially "The Forgotten Garden". "The Distant Hours" is very similar to The Forgotten Garden, skipping around between time periods to tell the story of Milderhurst Castle, its people, a reclusive author and the young girl evacuated there during the blitz. While I found "The Forgotten Garden" enchanting, "The Distant Hours" felt formulaic and sluggish (especially the first third of the book). The pace of the story picked up in the last half and held my attention to a satisfying if somewhat predictable finish. If I didnt start this book with the high expectations that the authors previous books warranted, I would have rated it higher than the three stars Im giving it now.
reviewed The Distant Hours on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
So, so beautiful. I absolutely love Kate Morton's ability to tell stories. Her love of literature and books really shines through. I identified with the main character, Edith, who felt more at ease with written communication than with speaking out loud. I enjoyed her secret wish that everyone could just write letters in lieu of talking.

This book has the gothic romantic/tragedy feel of "Jane Eyre" combined with the slow lingering horror of "The Shadow of the Wind." There is the bookish publishing agent, Edith, who becomes involved with the odd, ancient spinster sisters Persephone, Seraphina and Juniper who live in the castle once owned by their father, an eccentric writer. From the start, we are told that Juniper, the youngest sister, was driven mad when her fiance runs out on her. However, things are not as they seem. As Edith unwinds the tale in modern (1990s) time, the sisters remember their past in flashbacks. And of course, there's more to the jilted lover story than we imagine.

With that said, this story is not perfect. Though Edith's character is described quite well, there is just not enough detail of the sisters to really complete the story. The family "curse" is not fully revealed until towards the end, and that late reveal doesn't quite carry the impact as expected. heredity and madness is another theme that is implied but never quite drawn out in detail; this weakens what is perhaps the most vital scene in the book. Without giving too much away, I felt the relationships between the father and each daughter should have been described in much more detail in order to really enhance the family tragedy and "curse."

However, there was so much in this book to enjoy. The first tour of the castle was absolutely wonderful, especially the description of the "veins" (secret passages between the walls) to give a sense that the castle was "alive." The doomed romances are short but sweet. And the ending made me cry. Don't skip this book!
reviewed The Distant Hours on + 999 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A somewhat gothic tale of a castle, monsters, and disturbed personalities. The story drifts between the 1990s and World War II. I have now read 3 of Kate Morton's books - House at Riverton, Forgotten Garden, and this one. I have enjoyed all three.
reviewed The Distant Hours on
Helpful Score: 2
Kate Morton,Is a true storyteller.she gets you hooked.I couldn't put this down .I was living the story. If this is the type of reading you like ,she is the best. I have read all three of her books ,and they are books I am saving for my granddaughter. so I won't be swapping them. that says it all .
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reviewed The Distant Hours on + 11 more book reviews
I do like Morton's ability to combine a Gothic flavor with a a heroine possessing fairly modern sensibilities, though they don't coexist plausibly all the time.

The prose had real flair much of the time, but I have to agree with Cathy C. about the undue length of the book (and Morton's book's generally) - that tells you I'd like to see more discipline in the writing as well as style. And the secrets ARE telegraphed a bit.