Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Distant Hours (Kate Morton)

It is very difficult to name the genre of The Distant Hours. Kate Morton has created a story so layered and enchanting, that it is impossible to place it into a well-defined box. At times, a Gothic mystery (I might even go so far as to say horror) that will make you shiver with fright, and at other times a heartbreaking love story, you will find yourself racing through your day so that you can curl up with it at night.

The Distant Hours is the story of the Blythe family, the owners of Milderhurst Castle (I dare anyone to tell me that the castle cannot be considered a character in the story.). During the Second World War, the Blythes took in an evacuee from London, Meredith. She becomes great friends with the youngest Blythe sister, Juniper. Years later, when Meredith is in her sixties, she gets a long-lost letter from Juniper. Meredith's daughter, Edie, becomes fascinated with the story of Milderhurst and the Blythe family...specifically Ramond Blythe, the author of a classic story about a "mud man", his twin daughters, Percy and Saffy, and Juniper, still waiting fifty years later for the man she loves to arrive for their engagement dinner.

The Distant Hours is brilliant storytelling by Morton. Bouncing from era to era, she keeps the reader enthralled through all 560 pages. I thought I had the mystery figured out early, but Morton threw all of that out the window. My heart pounded as it was finally explained, and then she tied up all of the loose ends with a little bow. Throw a log in the fireplace, pour yourself a glass of sherry, and dive into The Distant Hours.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Driving With Dead People (Monica Holloway)

When I pick up a new book, I am one of the few out there who literally read it cover to cover. When I say that, I truly mean it. I read the inside book jacket and the blurbs from bestselling authors on the back. One sentence that truly sums up this book is by author Barbara Abercrombie. She quotes "In the space of one sentence Monica Holloway can break your heart and make you laugh out loud at the same time." This truly sums up what it is like reading this memoir.

Driving With Dead People is Monica Holloway's memoir of growing up in small-town Ohio, living with her parents and three siblings. She longs for love, attention, and to simply be wanted by her parents. Her father lives a lie by faithfully going to Church each Sunday and being a member of numerous civic groups. Holloway wonders why he showers attention on others, but cannot seem to love his own family. Her mother turns a blind eye to all types of abuse in the house; even, as we later find out, the worst kind. Absolutely heartbreaking is when Monica has a casual conversation with her mother, and finds out they had planned on stopping after three children and were extremely upset upon learning of the fourth pregnancy. Monica was the fourth child.

The "dead people" come into play throughout this memoir, especially when Monica befriends a girl whose family runs the local mortuary. Don't miss Driving With Dead People. It is unbelievably sad, hysterically funny at times, but wonderfully uplifting.