The Distant Hours…
Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.
Evacuated from London as a 12-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters, and their father, Raymond.
Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle. She, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. For the truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
I got off to a bit of a shaky start with this novel and I’m going to attribute it entirely to having started it with the audio edition. I could not connect with the story at all and loathed the pace at which the narrator was reading. So I stopped listening, took a break from the story, and eventually returned to it, reading it for myself, at a pace I chose, and I never looked back.
Kate Morton is an author who writes with such atmosphere and clarity that you really want to just languish over the prose, take your time and immerse yourself, the chunky weight of the novel resting in your hands along with the knowledge that there is plenty still to come.
This was a wonderfully intersecting story that was both gripping and uplifting at the same time. Deeply sad, rich in detail, and meticulously arranged, The Distant Hours is for those who like to spend time with their novels. It’s not a quick read, and it’s not a fast paced read either. But it is a good read, especially for those with a keen interest in British history during the WWII era. The gothic undertone was much appreciated as well. Kate Morton has such a knack at breathing life into old and decrepit houses, and for me, a story with an old house at its heart will always be a winner.