The Distant Hours

Monday, April 30, 2012


The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton
★★★★☆

I will officially read whatever Morton writes. After my experience with The Forgotten Garden last year I knew I liked her style, but this book cemented it for me. Her books can certainly run a bit longer than they need to be, but when it comes to a gothic mystery with old ruined castles and buried secrets, I like a bit of meandering. I don’t read it sitting on the edge of my seat for the big reveal in the end. I guessed some plot twists and was surprised by others, but the twist isn't really the point with her books. You're so fascinated by the characters that you want to know what happens, but you’re also comfortable slowly peeling back the layers.

Three elderly sisters, Juniper, Saffy and Percy, live alone in Milderhurst Castle. The story’s central character, Edie, stumbles upon their home after her mother reveals that she lived with them for a short time during the London bombings in WWII.

The story bounces back and forth between WWII and 1992. There are about five minor and major plots that weave together; Edie’s personal life, her mother’s story, the back story of each of the three sisters, their father’s history and the story behind his famous book (The True History of the Mud Man). It sounds like a lot, but it never becomes confusing. There’s a bit of love, broken hearts, abandoned dreams and, of course, family secrets.

The sisters are wonderful characters. Juniper, the baby of the family, is a recreation of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. Saffy is a sweet-natured woman who can’t seem to stand up to her twin sister. Percy is the headstrong eldest sister and she takes care of everyone in her family, whether they like it or not. The trio has a great dynamic, both as elderly women in 1992 and young women during the war. There’s an intense protective nature in everything they do they speaks to the unbreakable bonds of a family.

The Forgotten Garden is my favorite of Morton’s books so far, but I really enjoyed this one. I’m looking forward to reading The House at Riverton and whatever she writes next. If you loved The Thirteenth Tale or Rebecca, I would highly recommend this one.

“It’s a funny thing, character, the way it brands people as they age, rising from within to leave its scar.”

“Lack of potatoes left a person’s stomach growling, but absence of beauty hardened the soul.”

“I can’t imagine facing the end of the day without a story to drop into on my way towards sleep.”

“Insecurities and hurts, anxieties and fears grow teeth at night.”

19 comments:

Dragonfly Daydreams said...

I love Kate's books too, so you'll be pleased to hear that she has a new book due out at the end of the year :-)

Anne said...

I've read The House at Riverton and really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading this one soon.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Haven't read this one yet, but I do have it. Sounds like a good one.

Mystica said...

Have read The House at Riverton and The Distant Hours! both good.

Sandy Nawrot said...

The Forgotten Garden is the only one I haven't read, because the library doesn't have it on audio. I love Morton but she does work it. She is a meanderer. However gothic just oozes out of her stories, and I adore that, even if they all could be possibly shortened by a hundred pages.

Joanne said...

I've read all of Kate Morton's books and enjoyed them very much. Looking forward to her new book -- she can't write fast enough for me!

Trish said...

I KNOW I need to read something by her. I KNOW I do. And it's definitely a great endorsement you saying that you'll read anything by her now. And yup--loved Thirteenth Tale and Rebecca!

nomadreader said...

I just read in Library Journal's pre-pub alert that she has a new book coming out. I need to read her too. All of her books sound so good!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Dragonfly Daydreams - That's wonderful news!

Anne - I haven't read that one yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Sandy - I agree, they could all be shortened, but for some reason I don't mind it with this style book.

Joanne - I still have The house at Riverton to look forward to!

Trish - The main complaint I've heard about her is that the books are too long and meandering, but I think you'd enjoy them.

nomadreader - I hadn't heard that yet! I'll definitely look forward to it.

Jenners said...

I've been meaning to try this author. In fact, I think I have The Forgotten Garden sitting on my shelves, waiting patiently to be read. I shall move it up in the list now!

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

yay!! so glad this meets expectations!!

Mumsy said...

mmm...I thought the final reveal was weak. I think I would have liked this one much more when i was younger; Morton's good at the Gothic atmosphere, but I think I find Gothic less appealing these days. Age, I guess.

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

I also LOVED The Forgotten Garden! I've read The House at Riverton which is also good - but The Forgotten Garden still trumps it! Glad to hear that The Distant Hours is also up to Morton's standard.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - It's a great one to curl up and spend a day with.

Kat - I'm glad to hear House at Riverton is good. I still have that one to look forward to.

Jenny said...

Kate Morton has a few writing tics that bug me, but all of her books are good for curling up with on the couch on a rainy day. I might see if I can get this one -- it's the last of hers that I haven't read yet -- and save it for a day next week that I know is going to be miserable.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenny - If I love the characters or the story I tend to be a more forgiving when the writing is flawed. I hope you like this last one though!

Care said...

Great quotes! I have yet to read anything by this author.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mumsy - That's interesting. I wonder if I'll grow out of my gothic phase. Right now I love it!

Care - She always has so many lines I want to quote.

Jillian said...

I liked this one too. My favorite is still The Forgotten Garden, but I was happy that this didn't disappoint me. I can't wait to check out her upcoming book.