I’m a fan of Kate Morton’s work, so I was happy to settle down and read The Distant Hours. At 670 pages, it isn’t a book you can whizz through, nor is it an easy read. But if you’re looking for an intriguing read with more threads than a spider’s web, then you should definitely check it out.
This is the story of Milderhurst Castle. It begins with a long lost letter, which results in Edie Burchill taking a trip from London to Kent in search of the grand old castle, and the three Blythe sisters that live within it. Edie is linked to the castle because her mother lived there when she was evacuated during World War II – and it was from here that the mysterious letter came.
Soon after her arrival in Milderhurst village, Edie finds herself fascinated by the story of the three sisters and the decaying castle. This fascination only increases when she starts to find out more about them and their lives – particularly the fact that none of them ever married, and that the two older sisters spent most of their lives looking after their younger sister, due to her taking a funny turn when her fiancé jilted her in 1941.
Edie’s own mother’s past is wrapped up in the castle and, as she sets about unravelling it, she discovers that there are more secrets than she could have ever imagined hidden within the old stones. Stories of love, loss, family, friendship… and some much more sinister tales, too.
Kate Morton has turned out another fabulous book here. With books this long, there’s a danger that it won’t hold the reader’s interest, or that there’s superfluous information. This is definitely not the case with The Distant Hours. It’s telling the story of a castle and its inhabitants across the span of many, many years and several generations of family. There’s a lot to tell and it’s all relevant to the plot. I, for one, was drawn in very quickly to the narrative, and found myself, just as Edie was, wanting to find out more and more about the happenings at Milderhurst Castle. Morton has an enviable knack of telling a story in such a way that she gives you titbits of information that make you desperate to find out the full story. This happens throughout, giving you lots to think and wonder about, not least how it will all tie together at the end of the novel. But tie together it does, with a satisfactory if not tragic ending.
I really enjoyed The Distant Hours and think Kate Morton’s imagination and style of storytelling is incredible. I’ll be looking forward to more of her books.