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.