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The #1 internationally bestselling author of The Forgotten Garden mesmerizes readers with this haunting tale of long-buried secrets and the twists of fate that can alter lives forever.

It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.

Topics: Family, World War II, Sisters, Secrets, Mothers and Daughters, Death, Love, Suspenseful, Haunting, Gothic, England, and 1990s

Published: Atria Books on
ISBN: 9781439199343
List price: $11.99
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3.5 stars is what I'd like to rate this, but there is no half star on this site (hint, hint Goodreads!)

I liked this book, but it could have been at least 100 pages shorter. I believe the author felt the lengthy descriptions and such were necessary to create the mood of the novel but more than once it just felt excessive.

It was a good 'throw back' novel, reminiscent of Rebecca. I thought the bones of the story were good and it kept me guessing right to the end.more
I can't help thinking this book could have used a thorough editing. I liked it but not as much as I liked The Forgotten Garden.more
I wasn't sure what I was going to think. In the end I did like it but not a whole lot. I found the way the book was written to be very irritating hence the two stars. I might read something else by her but not for quite awhile.more
Several interconnected mysteries underlie this novel, which draws on Victorian and Gothic traditions. Edie Burchill embarks on a journey into her mother's past after the arrival of a long-lost letter that takes her to the decaying Milderhurst Castle, the residence of three elderly sisters, who also happen to be the daughters of a famous author of a classic novel. Meandering through decades of the 20th century, The Distant Hours has a distinct feel and subsequent mysteries are revealed as the novel progresses. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and Gothic novels!more
I'm not sure what rating to give this book. I think I'll go with 3.5. If I rate it on read-ability, it would be very high. It was gripping, and I love her style of writing. But whereas The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton were beautifully haunting, this one was disturbingly haunting. After I finished The House at Riverton I actually physically hugged the book. After I finished this one, I put it down and walked away, glad to have finished, but not able to get it out of my mind. Not that it wasn't really good, just that I was sad and disturbed. I will say that the secrets were kept better in this one. I was clueless about most of the things, maybe that's why it was more disturbing - I didn't have as much processing time, it was just.... boom.... whoa! So, it was really good, creative, imaginative, and a great read. I'm just not sure how I feel about it. I'm excited to see what Kate Morton comes up with next.more
I'm a Kate Morton fan. Even so, though I was intrigued by the back cover blurb (lost letter spurs a daughter to solve a mystery in her mother's life), the actual tale was much different and darker than I expected. Still, I soldiered on, but even with all the historic detail, the magic of Morton's other books never found me in this one. (Rounded up to a 3).more
Fans of Kate Morton will surely love this book. As with her previous novels, she has woven a truly compelling tale overflowing with mysterious themes which capture the reader’s interest. Reality and unreality conjoin like twin shadows, often forcing the reader to question what is feigned and what is bona fide, what is the result of madness and what is rational, who is sane and who is not. It was sometimes hard to separate fact from fancy.This is the story of a family scarred by the horrors of war, unrequited love, heartbreak, scandals, secrets and madness. Ruled by a patriarch determined to protect his ancestral castle, he exerts enormous control over his descendants, even from beyond the grave. The Blythe offspring have been cloistered for most of their lives within the confines of the castle. Twins, Persephone and Seraphina, and a younger sibling, Juniper, progeny of two different mothers, inhabit a world often created by their own imagination, hence sometimes intersecting with the real world in disharmony. Their lives and loves are hidden within the confines of the castle’s stone walls.Meredith Baker is a victim of wartime displacement. At age 14, she is moved with many children, to the countryside, where they will live with host families because their parents fear it is too dangerous for them to remain in London. Separated from her siblings, she is sent to live in a castle, with the Blythe children and their father, Raymond, a famous author. At Milderhurst Castle she discovers her true desires and blossoms. The story begins years later. Meredith is married and in her 65th year. Stoic and secretive, she has never revealed her castle experience to her daughter, and when a letter from the past, from that time of her life, unexpectedly arrives so many years later, she opens up a sliver of light into her hidden background because of the profound reaction the letter causes to her state of mind.The past and present merge as the story unfolds and is developed by Meredith’s daughter, Edith, who discovers the actual Milderhurst castle when she gets lost returning from a business trip. The sisters still live there in its state of decay and through her exploration and research, the walls of the castle reveal their mysteries, exposing the tragedies residing there and illuminating the history of the family that lived there.The characters are wonderfully drawn and images of them are sharp and clear. It is easy to identify with the emotions they experience. Although the first half of this rather lengthy 650+ page book doesn’t move that quickly, the second half takes off, and the pages fly. It was hard to put it down as I was completely engaged in the effort to discover how the story would resolve and I was not disappointed. My interest was captured and fulfilled as the secrets were revealed. ***Based on Advanced Readers Copymore
I feel somewhat manipulated. This is not the kind of novel I usually read and I can´t say I´m longing to read one again. BUT I couldn´t stop. I wanted to know what was going on and what had happened. I liked that the novel has a small hint of literacy in it - that is that the main character is a novel. That said, it really isn´t a very good novel. The characters are too stereotype and not very interesting. You never get to know them. The story promises a lot to begin with but doesn´t keep its promise in the end. But, as I said, I couldnt stop...more
Where’s a good editor when you need her? This book is 20th century gothic with a bow to Wuthering Heights, etc. Dickens would understand the economics since his serialized novels were lengthy out of financial necessity. The very complicated plot moves along at a snail’s pace but it managed to come to a complete conclusion tying up all loose ends. There are many dark corners in the story. It’s well written and the narrator captures all the mainly female characters quite well. Still, this cannot make up for the absent editor. If you are patient and like a very slow listen, this will be a rewarding book.more
I delved into this book eager with anticipation after loving The House At Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. However, although this was enjoyable, it didn't live up to Mortons first two books. It was long, which is not a bad thing, but it had a tendancy to drag sometimes. Although I liked the majority of characters and was intrigued by them, I thought Percy was a nasty old battleaxe who should have been locked in a loony bin many years ago! I wasn't entirely shocked at the 'mystery' that was revealed however. If there was one thing about this book that I really enjoyed it was the additional story on The True History of the Mud Man. I would to know more on this and hope the author will do a spin off book with the full story!more
It’s no secret that I have been reading The Distant Hours for a month. The slowness was definitely contributed to the novel been nearly 600 pages, or a brick as I liked to refer to it. It was formidable, intimidating. I would read and not feel like I was putting a dent in it. It was discouraging. I think I would have given up on it weeks ago had it not been for the List Swap Challenge Julie and I are participating in. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it because this has been one of the best reads of the year for me.This novel incorporates many of my favorite reading loves. I love novels about sisters, I love romance, I love heartbreak, I love novels set in the 40s. I love reading about women and how they interact with each other. I love the secrets, the vulnerability in revealing truths. The Distant Hours is all those things and more.Ms. Morton’s writing style is poetry. The mere size of the novel is testament that she did not leave any stones unturned. This novel was well researched, thought-out. She bounced back and forth between 1941 and 1992 with ease. I was never confused or confounded. She writes such strong, beautiful women. Each of the sisters, as well as Edie, Meredith, Lucy, and Rita, were multidimensional characters. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each one. One of the stunning truths of this novel is that although each woman had strength of her own, they were more or less control by one man and his secrets, Raymond Blythe. He was the catalyst The Distant Hours.Shroud in mystery, Ms. Morton’s gift is revealing these in an unexpected way. Just like Edie, I would begin to think one thing, convinced I had it figured out and then Wham! – Here comes the truth and it would leave my head spinning and feeling awed, impressed how easily I was fooled and how the truth was there all along. This novel was such a pleasure to read. It reminds me of the kind of novel you curl up to on a cold, rainy or snowy night. It’s comfortable, it makes you think, it keeps you guessing. Maybe it’s the castle setting, maybe it’s the relationship between the women. Maybe it’s the women individually. There is just something so wonderful about this novel that each minute spend reading it is like getting to know a new friend.And just how it was highly recommended to me, I highly recommend it to you.more
Edie Burchill has never been close to her mother Meredith, who was evacuated from London to Milderhurst Castle in Kent at the beginning of WWII, where she stayed with the three Blythe sisters and their writer father, Raymond. One day a lost letter arrives for Edie's mother, originally sent by one of the sisters during the war, and Edie, observing her mother's reaction, sets out to investigate, unearthing secrets and mysteries that had been hidden for a long time.The novel starts with a fictitious prologue of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's book written by Raymond Blythe which plays a major role in The Distant Hours, and which sets the scene with its atmospheric beginning and whets the appetite for the mystery to come. But be warned: the reader has no choice but to be patient, as Kate Morton has decided to narrate in split time frames again (becoming a bit of a speciality of hers?), and has to endure lengthy character studies of the twins and their younger sister Juniper. Don't get me wrong, I perceived it as a sort of exquisite torture and sneaked off every so often to read a quick chapter in order to get to the bottom of the mystery and the characters' long-harboured secrets. Apart from the literary and personal mysteries surrounding the Mud Man story, the novel also deals with the various guises of love: parental love, love for a parent, love between siblings, love between lovers, selfish love and unconditional love, in turns touching, tragic and romantic; in short, even though I felt the characterisations of the characters, and not just the main protagonists, a little bit too detailed at times, they did help to imbue everyone with life (even the dogs) and turned them into dear friends by the end of the last page, so that I was sad to leave them. And even though I felt the setting for the epilogue was a coincidence too far, in my opinion this is Kate Morton's best novel yet. I can't wait for her next one to be published.P.S.: An appeal to the author: If you ever felt devoid of ideas about what to write next (not that there's any chance of that for the time being, I imagine), could you please, please do a J K Rowling and write up The True History of the Mud Man; I'm sure there'd be a legion of fans who would eagerly devour it.more
Great book! Will keep to read again.more
I was disappointed in this book, I was really excited to read it and I felt led down.The start was very slow and I had to force myself to read, especially disappointing were the romances- they were barely there. The main character Edith was flat and you didn't really care about her or her mother Meridith. I was a fan of [The house at Riverton] and I loved [The Forgotten Garden] but this one just didn't hold up. Give it a miss.more
The book starts with a letter posted 50 years previous delivered to Edie's mother. From that moment on Edie, a book editor, is thrown into intrigue about her mother's life during war torn London, and her mother's evacuation to Kent. Edie's mother, Meredith is sent to live with three sisters and their father at Milderhurst Castle in Kent. The father, is non other than the author of a favourite book of Edie's. A chance visit for work sends Edie to Kent where she decides, rather last minute to visit the castle and see if she can piece together the secrets from her mothers time there.Rewind, 50 years to a young Meredith, who is living with three fairly eccentric twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half sister Juniper. Their father, returned from the horrors of the First World War a very different man and writes what is to become a well known children's book. Meredith is encouraged to write and forms a strong relationship with the sisters.The sisters are though, bound together by more than blood, there's is a family steeped in mystery, death and domination, first by the sister Persephone, known and Percy and by their father.The book does have some interesting twists and although an enjoyable read It certainly is not a favourite despite the research aspects to the book, which I normally enjoy.more
The Distant HoursBy Kate MortonI have a confession. It takes me FOREVER to get through a book. Now there have been a few that I’ve done in record time – but on the whole – no, takes me forever to get through a book. Now I have been fortunate, the reason I take so long to get through a book is that I enjoy reading, I like thinking about the characters, contemplating writing styles – and yes I read more than one book at a time. Drat, true confession is a pain – but it is true, I have half read books all over the house. And here is something more – I buy books like most people groceries. I have to have them. I need books in every room (of course bathrooms too). I have books in every room and I only give books away to people I trust. It’s true – to give a book away is anguish for me – not that I have not been taught to share but…wouldn’t you like my mix master instead? How ‘bout my noodle maker? No really, I look at a book and think – give it away- and I can’t. I just know it will not be taken care of properly, it will not be cherished. When I look upon a book I think of when I read it, what I was doing, was it snowing, was it hot, did I read it to commemorate a year in my life – yes I read War and Peace for my thirtieth birthday – nearly twenty years ago. But I remember. I remember the anguish I took in picking out the copy of War and Peace. I found my copy in a junk shop, the gold fading off the pages, no annotations or forwards to wreck my life or my reading – I loved War and Peace. Yes I still have the book.What does this have to do with The Distant Hours? Well that book happens to be my Mom’s and I’m giving it back. The book was fine but it was a disappointment too. So many people wanted me finish, wanted to talk about the book. Really gang, I was not surprised – the last swing with the wrench did not surprise me no more than hearing Mr. Gilbert mentioned in the end – drinks and all.The language was great and the young heroine saved the day – I loved her passivism that launched her into the adventure. I loved most the relationship she and her mother evolved – making lifelong friends of each other . I enjoyed this because the relationship did remind me of my own Mom and I appreciate when Moms and Daughters are close and are friends – no judgments – it can happen, I’m living proof. So in all the book was fine and I had no intention of ever giving up on it. To be fair it was a remarkable writing feat as well – not easy to write a book with all those characters, keep them maintained and the plot together – serious kudos in that departmentIn the end – would I recommend this book – yes to certain people, people like me who’s favorite novel is Jane Eyre, people like me who love a good love story. Would I recommend it to the man I love – no but I would read certain sections of it again all snuggled up and sharing a blanket with him. Yeah, that would be doable.more
The walls speak. They whisper about the distant hours, the stories of people who wander the stone rooms of Milderhurst Castle. Their hopes, their dream, their secrets….“Have you ever wondered what the stretch of time smells like? I can’t say that I had, not before I set foot inside Midlehurst Castle, but I certainly know now. Mold and ammonia, a pinch of lavender, and a fair whack of dust, the mass disintegration of very old sheets of paper. And there’s the something else, too, something underlying it all, something underlying it all, something verging on rotten or stewed but not. It took me a while to work out what that smell was, but I think I know now. It’s the past. Thought and dreams, hopes and hurts, all brewed together, fermenting slowly in the fusty air, unable to dissipate completely.”It begins with an excerpt from the story “The History of the Mud Man” a famous book written by Raymond Blythe, whom eventually went mad and fell from a window in Mildlehurt tower. He left behind three daughters, whose life’s where shaped by their mad, genius, ailing father. Their stories are intriguing and sad, and we slowly learn their story, tale by tale, piece by piece, when a young woman shows up to learn more about The Sisters Blythe, and about the years her mother had spent there as a young girl during the war. The novel is so intriguing, so addictive, leaving you guessing throughout, taking sides with one sister, before changing your mind, following the trail of all the women’s life’s within the story and finally, an ending that leaves you clutching the book, the story inhabiting your mind, unwilling to let go.more
The Distant Hours is Australian author, Kate Morton’s third novel. The novel plays out over two time periods: the early 1940s and 50 years later. The story begins when Meredith Burchill receives a letter that has been delayed by 50 years. The letter is from one of the Blythe sisters of Milderhurst Castle in Kent, to where Meredith was evacuated from London during the war. Her daughter Edith watches her reaction and is inwardly sceptical when her mother dismisses the letter as unimportant. Sometime later, Edith’s publishing job takes her near Milderhurst Castle, where she is drawn to know more about the place her mother stayed, the place that was also home to the famous author, Raymond Blythe. She meets the elderly sisters Blythe: the twins, Persephone (Percy) and Seraphina (Saffy) and the much younger (and mad) Juniper (June), during a tour of the Castle. Whilst there, she hears something of the events of 50 years previous that have left Juniper stuck on October 29th, 1941. Juniper still waits for the expected fiancé who never arrived. This book is filled with wonderful prose (“And then had come the rain, great sobbing drops that brought an immediate sheen to the world.” and “The room bore an unmistakeable signature of stillness”). The characters develop well: Morton binds the sister in an intricate tangle of love and duty and resentment. The plot is involved and interesting enough to keep the reader turning pages. By about a third of the way through I was convinced I had figured out who dunnit, as I think many readers will be. It was such a lovely read, though, that I kept going and was duly surprised by the twist at the end. The epilogue was a superb touch. A very enjoyable read.more
The Distant Hours is a great mystery revolving around a castle and three old sisters, most of whom are crazy. I loved Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden so much that my expectations may have gotten away from me. In parts, this book seemed to really drag; I have always been critical of reviews that say "the book could've been shorter," until now. This book could've been shorter and not taken away from the story. I love how Kate Morton writes; her beautiful descriptions paint pictures that seem real. If you have read her other books, I recommend this one as well. I'm glad I finished it, it is an engrossing story that stays with you even when the book is out of sight.more
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.” more
Kate Morton's "The Distant Hours" is an interesting gothic tale set in modern times. Three sisters live in an old, decrepit castle. They're regarded as eccentric...or even a little crazy. A young woman sets out to discover her mother's history as it connects to these unusual women. Some of the plot devices were less believable, but it kept me reading.more
I borrowed my copy from the library in hardback as one of a selection for my new book group starting next week. I thought I would read it first just to make sure it was worth offering, especially as it is a thick book which on size alone could be off putting. I have already read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden which I enjoyed. This book was no disappointment either, written in a similar style where present day runs alongside past events. I was gripped fairly soon into the book and found it quite difficult to put down at the end of the day. I love it when a book makes you that excited you can't wait to pick it up again. The only thing that did detract a little for me was the way the book went from the present to the past. To differentiate the 'past', chapters were numbered, but sometimes they were interwoven with 'present' day chapters. I don't have a solution to offer as many authors must have this problem, how to separate 'past' and 'present' or different storytellers within a book. I liked the writing style and the story flowed well. I did like the ending and the epilogue which summed up the past events.more
Set in England 1992 and 1942, this was promising but fell so short of delivering. Chock-full of contrived and unbelievable coincidences and mysteries. Not at all up to the standard of The House at Riverton which I enjoyed so much. Even the final ‘reveal’, which is always brilliant in a Morton novel, couldn’t save it.more
Kate Morton has carved a niche for herself as writer of Gothic fiction. Her first two books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, were mesmerizing and captivating. Her third book, The Distant Hours, employed the Gothic tradition; however, Morton's third effort lacked the charm and power of its predecessors.The Distant Hours is about three sisters who live in Milderhurst Castle in Kent. They are the daughters of a famous British author whose book, The True History of the Mud Man, was a beloved classic. During World War II, the sisters accepted a young London refugee, Meredith, who blossomed under the sisters' care. Fast forward to 1992, and we meet Meredith and her daughter, Edie, who is curious about her mother's past. Edie finds her way to Milderhurst Castle, meets the sisters and gets tangled up in their past lives.Like Possession, a faux piece of literature is at the center of the story, and like many Gothic books, The Distant Hours has a cast of mysterious characters, including an old house that's a character of its own. The story sways back and forth from World War II to 1992. Admittedly, I found the older installments  more interesting than the modern ones. Truthfully, I was bored by most of Edie's narratives. Thankfully, the action picked up when Morton took us to the past, steadily revealing secrets and answers.The Distant Hours has the right ingredients for a great Gothic read, but I think the story was overdone. Sections of the book plodded on - almost endlessly - and I nearly abandoned the book twice. The ending was gratifying, though, and I am glad I stuck with it. The sisters, especially Percy, were fascinating. Perhaps I would have liked the book better if the story only focused on them.If you haven't read anything by Kate Morton, I would advise starting with her first two books. The Distant Hours is an above average read and not the best work Morton has to offer. Nonetheless, I look forward to her future works. She's an amazing writer.more
When a letter from the past is finally sent to Edie's mother, Edie finally gets a glimpse at who her mother is. Having had a strained relationship Edie latches to the story of her mother living at a castle that belonged to the author that inspired Edie Blythe. After inadvertantly meeting the sisters Blythe and looking to find out what brought the sisters to be the people the became, the youngest crazy and living in the past, she finds herself in a great mystery. A mystery that fills in the holes in the realtionship she has with both her parents.I loved this book. I thought it was very well written and found myself glued to the page by the last hundred pages. I am very impressed that a book that has som much sadness and sceams depressing could leave me with a smile on my face. Morton did a great job in developing the characters and showig each person clearly so that all actions within there whole lives make perfect sense. Highly recommended to any reader who enjoys a fun journey with mystery and can handle a sad story.  more
While this book starts to drag, just a bit, toward the end, the characters drag you in, and on, to the end. It is a mystery, but that isn't the center of the story. However, when you figure everything out, it helps to tie the wonder of the story with the questions you ask throughout. Delightful.more
I have just finished this book by Kate Morton and was sad to come to the end. Edie Burchell has a strained relationship with her mother, there is a mystery in her past that she will not share with her daughter,of a time she was evacuated during the war to a castle (Milderhusrt) where she lived with a very excentric family the father was an author of a very famous book "The True story of the Mud Man". He is very odd to say the least and his legascy starts the ball rolling! A great read.more
Kate Morton does it again with this great gothic feeling story of the 3 Blythe sisters and the ward they kept during the evacuation of the children from London during WWII, Meredith. The story we have in the present day is Meredith’s daughter Edie finds a letter to her mother from Juniper Blythe youngest of the spinster Blythe sisters and Edie finds out her mother was billeted with them at Milderhurst Castle during the war a fact her mother has never spoken a word about, especially considering Edie’s favorite book as a child The Mudman was written by the Blythes father. So Edie decided to travel to the castle and find out what she can about her mother’s time there and the reclusive author of her favorite childhood book. But what she finds out about the Blythe family goes so far beyond her mother and the ramifications of the secrets of the past and how they have affected the sisters.This book had the great twists and turns and family secrets that Kate Morton has become known for I didn’t want to stop reading/listening to this one and was sad when I had to stop! I just want to gush like a fangirl about Kate Morton I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy all her books. I also can’t say enough about the audio versions Caroline Lee’s narration is so good and I highly recommend all Kate Morton’s books in audiobook format. They are a great read either way and I can’t wait for a new book by this author since I have now devoured everything she has written so far!4 ½ Starsmore
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Reviews

3.5 stars is what I'd like to rate this, but there is no half star on this site (hint, hint Goodreads!)

I liked this book, but it could have been at least 100 pages shorter. I believe the author felt the lengthy descriptions and such were necessary to create the mood of the novel but more than once it just felt excessive.

It was a good 'throw back' novel, reminiscent of Rebecca. I thought the bones of the story were good and it kept me guessing right to the end.more
I can't help thinking this book could have used a thorough editing. I liked it but not as much as I liked The Forgotten Garden.more
I wasn't sure what I was going to think. In the end I did like it but not a whole lot. I found the way the book was written to be very irritating hence the two stars. I might read something else by her but not for quite awhile.more
Several interconnected mysteries underlie this novel, which draws on Victorian and Gothic traditions. Edie Burchill embarks on a journey into her mother's past after the arrival of a long-lost letter that takes her to the decaying Milderhurst Castle, the residence of three elderly sisters, who also happen to be the daughters of a famous author of a classic novel. Meandering through decades of the 20th century, The Distant Hours has a distinct feel and subsequent mysteries are revealed as the novel progresses. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and Gothic novels!more
I'm not sure what rating to give this book. I think I'll go with 3.5. If I rate it on read-ability, it would be very high. It was gripping, and I love her style of writing. But whereas The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton were beautifully haunting, this one was disturbingly haunting. After I finished The House at Riverton I actually physically hugged the book. After I finished this one, I put it down and walked away, glad to have finished, but not able to get it out of my mind. Not that it wasn't really good, just that I was sad and disturbed. I will say that the secrets were kept better in this one. I was clueless about most of the things, maybe that's why it was more disturbing - I didn't have as much processing time, it was just.... boom.... whoa! So, it was really good, creative, imaginative, and a great read. I'm just not sure how I feel about it. I'm excited to see what Kate Morton comes up with next.more
I'm a Kate Morton fan. Even so, though I was intrigued by the back cover blurb (lost letter spurs a daughter to solve a mystery in her mother's life), the actual tale was much different and darker than I expected. Still, I soldiered on, but even with all the historic detail, the magic of Morton's other books never found me in this one. (Rounded up to a 3).more
Fans of Kate Morton will surely love this book. As with her previous novels, she has woven a truly compelling tale overflowing with mysterious themes which capture the reader’s interest. Reality and unreality conjoin like twin shadows, often forcing the reader to question what is feigned and what is bona fide, what is the result of madness and what is rational, who is sane and who is not. It was sometimes hard to separate fact from fancy.This is the story of a family scarred by the horrors of war, unrequited love, heartbreak, scandals, secrets and madness. Ruled by a patriarch determined to protect his ancestral castle, he exerts enormous control over his descendants, even from beyond the grave. The Blythe offspring have been cloistered for most of their lives within the confines of the castle. Twins, Persephone and Seraphina, and a younger sibling, Juniper, progeny of two different mothers, inhabit a world often created by their own imagination, hence sometimes intersecting with the real world in disharmony. Their lives and loves are hidden within the confines of the castle’s stone walls.Meredith Baker is a victim of wartime displacement. At age 14, she is moved with many children, to the countryside, where they will live with host families because their parents fear it is too dangerous for them to remain in London. Separated from her siblings, she is sent to live in a castle, with the Blythe children and their father, Raymond, a famous author. At Milderhurst Castle she discovers her true desires and blossoms. The story begins years later. Meredith is married and in her 65th year. Stoic and secretive, she has never revealed her castle experience to her daughter, and when a letter from the past, from that time of her life, unexpectedly arrives so many years later, she opens up a sliver of light into her hidden background because of the profound reaction the letter causes to her state of mind.The past and present merge as the story unfolds and is developed by Meredith’s daughter, Edith, who discovers the actual Milderhurst castle when she gets lost returning from a business trip. The sisters still live there in its state of decay and through her exploration and research, the walls of the castle reveal their mysteries, exposing the tragedies residing there and illuminating the history of the family that lived there.The characters are wonderfully drawn and images of them are sharp and clear. It is easy to identify with the emotions they experience. Although the first half of this rather lengthy 650+ page book doesn’t move that quickly, the second half takes off, and the pages fly. It was hard to put it down as I was completely engaged in the effort to discover how the story would resolve and I was not disappointed. My interest was captured and fulfilled as the secrets were revealed. ***Based on Advanced Readers Copymore
I feel somewhat manipulated. This is not the kind of novel I usually read and I can´t say I´m longing to read one again. BUT I couldn´t stop. I wanted to know what was going on and what had happened. I liked that the novel has a small hint of literacy in it - that is that the main character is a novel. That said, it really isn´t a very good novel. The characters are too stereotype and not very interesting. You never get to know them. The story promises a lot to begin with but doesn´t keep its promise in the end. But, as I said, I couldnt stop...more
Where’s a good editor when you need her? This book is 20th century gothic with a bow to Wuthering Heights, etc. Dickens would understand the economics since his serialized novels were lengthy out of financial necessity. The very complicated plot moves along at a snail’s pace but it managed to come to a complete conclusion tying up all loose ends. There are many dark corners in the story. It’s well written and the narrator captures all the mainly female characters quite well. Still, this cannot make up for the absent editor. If you are patient and like a very slow listen, this will be a rewarding book.more
I delved into this book eager with anticipation after loving The House At Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. However, although this was enjoyable, it didn't live up to Mortons first two books. It was long, which is not a bad thing, but it had a tendancy to drag sometimes. Although I liked the majority of characters and was intrigued by them, I thought Percy was a nasty old battleaxe who should have been locked in a loony bin many years ago! I wasn't entirely shocked at the 'mystery' that was revealed however. If there was one thing about this book that I really enjoyed it was the additional story on The True History of the Mud Man. I would to know more on this and hope the author will do a spin off book with the full story!more
It’s no secret that I have been reading The Distant Hours for a month. The slowness was definitely contributed to the novel been nearly 600 pages, or a brick as I liked to refer to it. It was formidable, intimidating. I would read and not feel like I was putting a dent in it. It was discouraging. I think I would have given up on it weeks ago had it not been for the List Swap Challenge Julie and I are participating in. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it because this has been one of the best reads of the year for me.This novel incorporates many of my favorite reading loves. I love novels about sisters, I love romance, I love heartbreak, I love novels set in the 40s. I love reading about women and how they interact with each other. I love the secrets, the vulnerability in revealing truths. The Distant Hours is all those things and more.Ms. Morton’s writing style is poetry. The mere size of the novel is testament that she did not leave any stones unturned. This novel was well researched, thought-out. She bounced back and forth between 1941 and 1992 with ease. I was never confused or confounded. She writes such strong, beautiful women. Each of the sisters, as well as Edie, Meredith, Lucy, and Rita, were multidimensional characters. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each one. One of the stunning truths of this novel is that although each woman had strength of her own, they were more or less control by one man and his secrets, Raymond Blythe. He was the catalyst The Distant Hours.Shroud in mystery, Ms. Morton’s gift is revealing these in an unexpected way. Just like Edie, I would begin to think one thing, convinced I had it figured out and then Wham! – Here comes the truth and it would leave my head spinning and feeling awed, impressed how easily I was fooled and how the truth was there all along. This novel was such a pleasure to read. It reminds me of the kind of novel you curl up to on a cold, rainy or snowy night. It’s comfortable, it makes you think, it keeps you guessing. Maybe it’s the castle setting, maybe it’s the relationship between the women. Maybe it’s the women individually. There is just something so wonderful about this novel that each minute spend reading it is like getting to know a new friend.And just how it was highly recommended to me, I highly recommend it to you.more
Edie Burchill has never been close to her mother Meredith, who was evacuated from London to Milderhurst Castle in Kent at the beginning of WWII, where she stayed with the three Blythe sisters and their writer father, Raymond. One day a lost letter arrives for Edie's mother, originally sent by one of the sisters during the war, and Edie, observing her mother's reaction, sets out to investigate, unearthing secrets and mysteries that had been hidden for a long time.The novel starts with a fictitious prologue of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's book written by Raymond Blythe which plays a major role in The Distant Hours, and which sets the scene with its atmospheric beginning and whets the appetite for the mystery to come. But be warned: the reader has no choice but to be patient, as Kate Morton has decided to narrate in split time frames again (becoming a bit of a speciality of hers?), and has to endure lengthy character studies of the twins and their younger sister Juniper. Don't get me wrong, I perceived it as a sort of exquisite torture and sneaked off every so often to read a quick chapter in order to get to the bottom of the mystery and the characters' long-harboured secrets. Apart from the literary and personal mysteries surrounding the Mud Man story, the novel also deals with the various guises of love: parental love, love for a parent, love between siblings, love between lovers, selfish love and unconditional love, in turns touching, tragic and romantic; in short, even though I felt the characterisations of the characters, and not just the main protagonists, a little bit too detailed at times, they did help to imbue everyone with life (even the dogs) and turned them into dear friends by the end of the last page, so that I was sad to leave them. And even though I felt the setting for the epilogue was a coincidence too far, in my opinion this is Kate Morton's best novel yet. I can't wait for her next one to be published.P.S.: An appeal to the author: If you ever felt devoid of ideas about what to write next (not that there's any chance of that for the time being, I imagine), could you please, please do a J K Rowling and write up The True History of the Mud Man; I'm sure there'd be a legion of fans who would eagerly devour it.more
Great book! Will keep to read again.more
I was disappointed in this book, I was really excited to read it and I felt led down.The start was very slow and I had to force myself to read, especially disappointing were the romances- they were barely there. The main character Edith was flat and you didn't really care about her or her mother Meridith. I was a fan of [The house at Riverton] and I loved [The Forgotten Garden] but this one just didn't hold up. Give it a miss.more
The book starts with a letter posted 50 years previous delivered to Edie's mother. From that moment on Edie, a book editor, is thrown into intrigue about her mother's life during war torn London, and her mother's evacuation to Kent. Edie's mother, Meredith is sent to live with three sisters and their father at Milderhurst Castle in Kent. The father, is non other than the author of a favourite book of Edie's. A chance visit for work sends Edie to Kent where she decides, rather last minute to visit the castle and see if she can piece together the secrets from her mothers time there.Rewind, 50 years to a young Meredith, who is living with three fairly eccentric twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half sister Juniper. Their father, returned from the horrors of the First World War a very different man and writes what is to become a well known children's book. Meredith is encouraged to write and forms a strong relationship with the sisters.The sisters are though, bound together by more than blood, there's is a family steeped in mystery, death and domination, first by the sister Persephone, known and Percy and by their father.The book does have some interesting twists and although an enjoyable read It certainly is not a favourite despite the research aspects to the book, which I normally enjoy.more
The Distant HoursBy Kate MortonI have a confession. It takes me FOREVER to get through a book. Now there have been a few that I’ve done in record time – but on the whole – no, takes me forever to get through a book. Now I have been fortunate, the reason I take so long to get through a book is that I enjoy reading, I like thinking about the characters, contemplating writing styles – and yes I read more than one book at a time. Drat, true confession is a pain – but it is true, I have half read books all over the house. And here is something more – I buy books like most people groceries. I have to have them. I need books in every room (of course bathrooms too). I have books in every room and I only give books away to people I trust. It’s true – to give a book away is anguish for me – not that I have not been taught to share but…wouldn’t you like my mix master instead? How ‘bout my noodle maker? No really, I look at a book and think – give it away- and I can’t. I just know it will not be taken care of properly, it will not be cherished. When I look upon a book I think of when I read it, what I was doing, was it snowing, was it hot, did I read it to commemorate a year in my life – yes I read War and Peace for my thirtieth birthday – nearly twenty years ago. But I remember. I remember the anguish I took in picking out the copy of War and Peace. I found my copy in a junk shop, the gold fading off the pages, no annotations or forwards to wreck my life or my reading – I loved War and Peace. Yes I still have the book.What does this have to do with The Distant Hours? Well that book happens to be my Mom’s and I’m giving it back. The book was fine but it was a disappointment too. So many people wanted me finish, wanted to talk about the book. Really gang, I was not surprised – the last swing with the wrench did not surprise me no more than hearing Mr. Gilbert mentioned in the end – drinks and all.The language was great and the young heroine saved the day – I loved her passivism that launched her into the adventure. I loved most the relationship she and her mother evolved – making lifelong friends of each other . I enjoyed this because the relationship did remind me of my own Mom and I appreciate when Moms and Daughters are close and are friends – no judgments – it can happen, I’m living proof. So in all the book was fine and I had no intention of ever giving up on it. To be fair it was a remarkable writing feat as well – not easy to write a book with all those characters, keep them maintained and the plot together – serious kudos in that departmentIn the end – would I recommend this book – yes to certain people, people like me who’s favorite novel is Jane Eyre, people like me who love a good love story. Would I recommend it to the man I love – no but I would read certain sections of it again all snuggled up and sharing a blanket with him. Yeah, that would be doable.more
The walls speak. They whisper about the distant hours, the stories of people who wander the stone rooms of Milderhurst Castle. Their hopes, their dream, their secrets….“Have you ever wondered what the stretch of time smells like? I can’t say that I had, not before I set foot inside Midlehurst Castle, but I certainly know now. Mold and ammonia, a pinch of lavender, and a fair whack of dust, the mass disintegration of very old sheets of paper. And there’s the something else, too, something underlying it all, something underlying it all, something verging on rotten or stewed but not. It took me a while to work out what that smell was, but I think I know now. It’s the past. Thought and dreams, hopes and hurts, all brewed together, fermenting slowly in the fusty air, unable to dissipate completely.”It begins with an excerpt from the story “The History of the Mud Man” a famous book written by Raymond Blythe, whom eventually went mad and fell from a window in Mildlehurt tower. He left behind three daughters, whose life’s where shaped by their mad, genius, ailing father. Their stories are intriguing and sad, and we slowly learn their story, tale by tale, piece by piece, when a young woman shows up to learn more about The Sisters Blythe, and about the years her mother had spent there as a young girl during the war. The novel is so intriguing, so addictive, leaving you guessing throughout, taking sides with one sister, before changing your mind, following the trail of all the women’s life’s within the story and finally, an ending that leaves you clutching the book, the story inhabiting your mind, unwilling to let go.more
The Distant Hours is Australian author, Kate Morton’s third novel. The novel plays out over two time periods: the early 1940s and 50 years later. The story begins when Meredith Burchill receives a letter that has been delayed by 50 years. The letter is from one of the Blythe sisters of Milderhurst Castle in Kent, to where Meredith was evacuated from London during the war. Her daughter Edith watches her reaction and is inwardly sceptical when her mother dismisses the letter as unimportant. Sometime later, Edith’s publishing job takes her near Milderhurst Castle, where she is drawn to know more about the place her mother stayed, the place that was also home to the famous author, Raymond Blythe. She meets the elderly sisters Blythe: the twins, Persephone (Percy) and Seraphina (Saffy) and the much younger (and mad) Juniper (June), during a tour of the Castle. Whilst there, she hears something of the events of 50 years previous that have left Juniper stuck on October 29th, 1941. Juniper still waits for the expected fiancé who never arrived. This book is filled with wonderful prose (“And then had come the rain, great sobbing drops that brought an immediate sheen to the world.” and “The room bore an unmistakeable signature of stillness”). The characters develop well: Morton binds the sister in an intricate tangle of love and duty and resentment. The plot is involved and interesting enough to keep the reader turning pages. By about a third of the way through I was convinced I had figured out who dunnit, as I think many readers will be. It was such a lovely read, though, that I kept going and was duly surprised by the twist at the end. The epilogue was a superb touch. A very enjoyable read.more
The Distant Hours is a great mystery revolving around a castle and three old sisters, most of whom are crazy. I loved Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden so much that my expectations may have gotten away from me. In parts, this book seemed to really drag; I have always been critical of reviews that say "the book could've been shorter," until now. This book could've been shorter and not taken away from the story. I love how Kate Morton writes; her beautiful descriptions paint pictures that seem real. If you have read her other books, I recommend this one as well. I'm glad I finished it, it is an engrossing story that stays with you even when the book is out of sight.more
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.” more
Kate Morton's "The Distant Hours" is an interesting gothic tale set in modern times. Three sisters live in an old, decrepit castle. They're regarded as eccentric...or even a little crazy. A young woman sets out to discover her mother's history as it connects to these unusual women. Some of the plot devices were less believable, but it kept me reading.more
I borrowed my copy from the library in hardback as one of a selection for my new book group starting next week. I thought I would read it first just to make sure it was worth offering, especially as it is a thick book which on size alone could be off putting. I have already read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden which I enjoyed. This book was no disappointment either, written in a similar style where present day runs alongside past events. I was gripped fairly soon into the book and found it quite difficult to put down at the end of the day. I love it when a book makes you that excited you can't wait to pick it up again. The only thing that did detract a little for me was the way the book went from the present to the past. To differentiate the 'past', chapters were numbered, but sometimes they were interwoven with 'present' day chapters. I don't have a solution to offer as many authors must have this problem, how to separate 'past' and 'present' or different storytellers within a book. I liked the writing style and the story flowed well. I did like the ending and the epilogue which summed up the past events.more
Set in England 1992 and 1942, this was promising but fell so short of delivering. Chock-full of contrived and unbelievable coincidences and mysteries. Not at all up to the standard of The House at Riverton which I enjoyed so much. Even the final ‘reveal’, which is always brilliant in a Morton novel, couldn’t save it.more
Kate Morton has carved a niche for herself as writer of Gothic fiction. Her first two books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, were mesmerizing and captivating. Her third book, The Distant Hours, employed the Gothic tradition; however, Morton's third effort lacked the charm and power of its predecessors.The Distant Hours is about three sisters who live in Milderhurst Castle in Kent. They are the daughters of a famous British author whose book, The True History of the Mud Man, was a beloved classic. During World War II, the sisters accepted a young London refugee, Meredith, who blossomed under the sisters' care. Fast forward to 1992, and we meet Meredith and her daughter, Edie, who is curious about her mother's past. Edie finds her way to Milderhurst Castle, meets the sisters and gets tangled up in their past lives.Like Possession, a faux piece of literature is at the center of the story, and like many Gothic books, The Distant Hours has a cast of mysterious characters, including an old house that's a character of its own. The story sways back and forth from World War II to 1992. Admittedly, I found the older installments  more interesting than the modern ones. Truthfully, I was bored by most of Edie's narratives. Thankfully, the action picked up when Morton took us to the past, steadily revealing secrets and answers.The Distant Hours has the right ingredients for a great Gothic read, but I think the story was overdone. Sections of the book plodded on - almost endlessly - and I nearly abandoned the book twice. The ending was gratifying, though, and I am glad I stuck with it. The sisters, especially Percy, were fascinating. Perhaps I would have liked the book better if the story only focused on them.If you haven't read anything by Kate Morton, I would advise starting with her first two books. The Distant Hours is an above average read and not the best work Morton has to offer. Nonetheless, I look forward to her future works. She's an amazing writer.more
When a letter from the past is finally sent to Edie's mother, Edie finally gets a glimpse at who her mother is. Having had a strained relationship Edie latches to the story of her mother living at a castle that belonged to the author that inspired Edie Blythe. After inadvertantly meeting the sisters Blythe and looking to find out what brought the sisters to be the people the became, the youngest crazy and living in the past, she finds herself in a great mystery. A mystery that fills in the holes in the realtionship she has with both her parents.I loved this book. I thought it was very well written and found myself glued to the page by the last hundred pages. I am very impressed that a book that has som much sadness and sceams depressing could leave me with a smile on my face. Morton did a great job in developing the characters and showig each person clearly so that all actions within there whole lives make perfect sense. Highly recommended to any reader who enjoys a fun journey with mystery and can handle a sad story.  more
While this book starts to drag, just a bit, toward the end, the characters drag you in, and on, to the end. It is a mystery, but that isn't the center of the story. However, when you figure everything out, it helps to tie the wonder of the story with the questions you ask throughout. Delightful.more
I have just finished this book by Kate Morton and was sad to come to the end. Edie Burchell has a strained relationship with her mother, there is a mystery in her past that she will not share with her daughter,of a time she was evacuated during the war to a castle (Milderhusrt) where she lived with a very excentric family the father was an author of a very famous book "The True story of the Mud Man". He is very odd to say the least and his legascy starts the ball rolling! A great read.more
Kate Morton does it again with this great gothic feeling story of the 3 Blythe sisters and the ward they kept during the evacuation of the children from London during WWII, Meredith. The story we have in the present day is Meredith’s daughter Edie finds a letter to her mother from Juniper Blythe youngest of the spinster Blythe sisters and Edie finds out her mother was billeted with them at Milderhurst Castle during the war a fact her mother has never spoken a word about, especially considering Edie’s favorite book as a child The Mudman was written by the Blythes father. So Edie decided to travel to the castle and find out what she can about her mother’s time there and the reclusive author of her favorite childhood book. But what she finds out about the Blythe family goes so far beyond her mother and the ramifications of the secrets of the past and how they have affected the sisters.This book had the great twists and turns and family secrets that Kate Morton has become known for I didn’t want to stop reading/listening to this one and was sad when I had to stop! I just want to gush like a fangirl about Kate Morton I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy all her books. I also can’t say enough about the audio versions Caroline Lee’s narration is so good and I highly recommend all Kate Morton’s books in audiobook format. They are a great read either way and I can’t wait for a new book by this author since I have now devoured everything she has written so far!4 ½ Starsmore
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