Posts Tagged ‘The Distant Hours’

Quick Outline

Cut grass, log fires, candle wax, pine, the must of ancient rooms and cold stone. If you could open a book and smell its story, this is what I’d imagine The Distant Hours would waft in our direction. Quintessentially Englishy smells. The sort of smells that should be taped to a picture postcard. Away from Milderhurst Castle the book smells of hustling-bustling London, pavements, rain on tarmac, petrol fumes, and the bleachy smell of over-efficient middle-class cleaning. Kate Morton creates an England which we recognize affectionately, relate to. An England, pre and post World War II, rural and urban, that we can be contained in, that we nurse and feel completely at home inside. A picture, so well drawn it leaves me unsure; is it this beautiful illustration of our country or the story itself which renders the tale a success?

The three sisters Blythe live together in crumbling Milderhurst castle. Oldest twin Percy, protectively, valiantly, guarding her sisters and their home. Whilst the stones crumble and the rooms are lost to dust, the three sisters, now symbols for the castle (old and decrepit, youngest Juniper decayed in mind) hang blindly onto the secrets which have bound and, simultaneously, parted them for the majority of their lives.

Untill the day that Edie Burchill stumbles across their story. Discovering that her Mother had been evacuated to the sisters’ castle during the war, Edie probes for information. But her mother, mute on the subject of her past, refuses to provide enlightenment. And so the tale stretches on, shifting between Edie and her curiosity, and the past lives of the sisters Blythe; sisters thoughtlessly, selfishly influenced and manipulated by a curious, guilt-ridden Father.

And eventually, Edie is pulled into their tale. Playing her own part in unburdening the older women, unravelling the knots that weigh heavy upon their past. Norton keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Secrets cause the reader to become greedy, as obsessed with the dark past as Edie herself.

A Picture Portrait

Milderhurst Castle: The ancient purpose of a castle as a fort, a protective space, an ancient shield against oncoming battle, providing view and defence, is reopened and explored by the sisters. These terms of warfare are converted now into the inter-personal world of the Blythe family. Generation after generation swells with madness and suicide. Those stories, never forgotten, are locked permanently within the walls; walls which whisper of those Distant Hours. This history, stained upon the walls, is protected and renewed, inflicted upon future generations by the castle itself. The sisters cannot leave because of actions taken by their Father, and so their lives, their future, their history, is shielded and defended from the sanity of intrusion. The castle guarding what it has only ever known.

Writing: Words spill and scatter, the characters’ lives snagged and hitched by their weight. A novel written by the Blythe sisters’ father, which achieves great acclaim and classic stature, haunts him untill his death. The daughters inherit his gift with words, words and stories ever haunted by his presence. Letters, documents, books, haunt Edie and the Blythes. They use them to escape, to dream, to love, to remember. But the words are hard, constantly reminding them of the things they cannot change; past mysteries are recalled and huge gaping holes are reopened. Torn by a few, hurriedly scratched lines, thoughtlessly written years before.


My Favourite Review…

Found on: http://babbleandbooks.wordpress.com

Beautifully written The Distant Hours will keep readers entranced, I was compelled to keep reading until I knew how the story ended. Kate Morton has written a gripping novel that’s is simply unputdownable. I stayed up late reading this until its stunning and surprising conclusion.

Kate Morton is a master of language, her lyrical flowing verse was so stunning it captured my imagination completely. This is a book that uses language richly. It draws you in to the very last page. The perfect mix of romance, intrigue mystery and suspense. The Distant Hours is utterly absorbing reading. If you like the language of the classics with a modern twist this book is definitely for you. A brilliant slightly gothic tale that is infinitely readable.

Kate Morton has proved yet again that she is a brilliant and talented writer who only gets better with each new book she writes. After I finished The Distant Hours I immediately started reading The Shifting Fog, which is Kate Morton’s first novel and it was a brilliant story as well. Everyone who reads Kate Morton will enjoy the journey.


Not always moving quite quickly enough, The Distant Hours is one of those books where the number of pages doesn’t adequately represent the length of tale…if that makes sense. Apart from that it’s lovely and well worth a summer read. Real Englishy, nostalgia-ridden writing.



3.5/5 Stars


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