Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review #88: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5278-2
Price: $26.00
Release Date: November 9, 2010

Description from Review Copy:

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old estate, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted fifty years before as a thirteen-year-old girl during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn't been the same since her fiance' jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in "the distant hours" of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

My Thoughts:


Well, friends, I must say I am horribly saddened that this book had to end. How does one write a review for a book that was more magnificent than words could describe?

No, I'm not working for Kate Morton.

But I would, if she asked me. I'd shine her bloody shoes, for crying out loud.
Her books are that beautiful and brilliant.

I have written a few posts about Morton and her other novels and also about my excitement and anticipation for this current one. It is truly a wonderful event to find an author who writes so consistently and exceptionally. You crack open that first page and you are swallowed whole by a wave of literary joy.

Kate Morton writes epic, grand character driven novels that are large in size but crafted so delicately it's as if you are piecing together a 1000 piece puzzle.

The sisters Blythe are the core of this novel.
The twins; quiet and rigid Percy; warm and forgiving Saffy and the third, much younger sister-the mysterious and secluded Juniper.

Their father Raymond Blythe is the famous author of The True History of the Mud Man. His life has its ups and downs and his presence fills the castle. After he dies, Percy carries on and cares for her sisters and the decaying home.

Percy wants nothing to do with life outside Milderhurst. Saffy wants only to flee but suffers from the weight of obligation towards her sisters.
Juniper lives within her own world and rarely bothers with rules.

Meredith, the young girl that comes to stay with them, changes the dynamic and ultimately will be the key that unlocks their secrets years down the road.

Juniper and Meredith become close friends. Juniper confides to Meredith that she is in love. The year is 1941 and she waits for her soldier to come home to marry her.

Fast forward to present day where we find Edie, Meredith's daughter. Through the arrival of a letter to Meredith, Edie discovers a past that she knew nothing of involving her mother and these sisters. Unable to get much out of her mother, Edie hesitantly begins to investigate. When she discovers Milderhurst, she is drawn in. What starts as a simple house tour, becomes a nail biting mystery of what really happened in 1941 that changed the course of not only the sisters but her mother as well.

Edie became a favorite of mine. She is strong willed, wicked smart and a little uncomfortable with herself at times. Her favorite childhood book was The True History of the Mud Man by Raymond Blythe, so her fascination with the family grows with each new finding.

A glimpse inside these characters lies in a few of my favorite lines.
(all quotes subject to change. from review copy)

"I bristled. it gets tiresome being everybody's ingenue." (Edie)
"Oh, frightful vanity, fishing for a compliment! She was right to ignore me." (Edie)

"The rules,' he'd say "they're different for people like you, Juniper. For people like us." (Raymond to Juniper)

""I'm an old lady, you know. I can't be relied upon to remember where I left you." (Percy)
HA! I love Percy.

They each had such a bright light, even in the darkness of their story, these characters were rich and well thought out. A simply divine book is all I can say.
To ramble on more would be pointless. Please see for yourself and mark
November 9 on your calendar.

The Distant Hours is a novel that holds mystery, romance, history, horror and fantasy. It holds, for me, many post it notes, coffee stains and dog eared sections.
I gave it love and it gave back.

I hope you all have a little love to give.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I would rate this with 10 stars if I could change my rating system again and again.
A heartbreaking and heartwarming character driven novel that begs you to stay, even in the wee hours of morning. I found it impossible to put down, each page revealing more of what lurked behind the shadows.

Book Club Note:
This is one to gush over. Pour one more glass of wine, eat one more decadent cookie and savor retelling this story. It will stir up questions about loyalty and obligation; the strength of the heart and mind, and the profound power of loss. What secrets do we carry with us?

Author Website:

The Distant Hours will be available
at Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon; to name a few.

Thank you so much to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for remembering how much I love Kate Morton and for not being annoyed with my emails asking "Is it out yet?"

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Wow, you're so lucky to have been able to read it in advance!!! I, too, was blown away by Morton's first two books and I'm eagerly awaiting this one - it sounds fantastic and I expect nothing short of brilliance from it! Great review, thank you! :D

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

WOW.....excellent review. I just finished House at Riverton - very good, and hope to read Forgotten Garden the this one. She is a great writer.

Tales of Whimsy said...

What an awesome review. I love how you described how you gave it love.

Lori Johnston said...

What an excellent review, Michelle! I can feel your enthusiasm and passion for this book coming right off the screen.

I have not read anything by Kate Morton but I am heading to my TBR list to add this one.

Happy Sunday!

Melissa said...

I haven't read any of Kate Morton's books, but I'm thinking I need to.

Great review!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am so excited to read her other books -- I've only read The House at Riverton, so clearly I need to get back into the wistful and magical world that Morton so wonderfully paints for us.

And for the record -- I would shine her shoes, too!! :)

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am so excited to read her other books -- I've only read The House at Riverton, so clearly I need to get back into the wistful and magical world that Morton so wonderfully paints for us.

And for the record -- I would shine her shoes, too!! :)

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am so excited to read her other books -- I've only read The House at Riverton, so clearly I need to get back into the wistful and magical world that Morton so wonderfully paints for us.

And for the record -- I would shine her shoes, too!! :)

Anonymous said...

You lucky lucky girl ;-) I don't want to spoil it for when I get my hands on I didn't read your review. Well...I had a peek ;-) and I saw the word "magnificent" and now I really can't wait :-)

Gina said...

Oh, what a great post! You can really see your fangirl side when it comes to this author...more power to you! I myself...haven't read anything by her at this point, may or may not in the future since you never really know what it will bring, but I loved your breakdown of the characters and how the love with this book was both give and take (coffee stains? tisk tisk!). Happy reading!

Oh, and before I forget...appropriately chosen musical quote for your review...
"Love is a many splendored thing,
Love lifts us up where we belong,
All you need is love!"
-- Moulin Rouge


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Another awesome review! Kate Morton is an author I have wanted to read but still have not got there (because I would have to leap over piles of unread books to do so and would probably hurt myself...LOL)

Jenny said...

I love reading reviews like this that are so passionate about the book! I ended up (luckily) receiving a copy of this book as well! I'm thinking I should pretty much get to it ASAP! =)

Lisa said...

I've got to finish The Forgotten Garden so I can get to this one!

WonderBunny said...

Great review! I am so looking forward to reading this one. I liked The Forgotten Garden when I read it a few years ago.