Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Title: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
ISBN: 9781439152782
Publisher: Atria, 2010
Hardcover, 576 pages
Genre: Suspense
Rating: C
Source: Paperback Swap

First Line: Hush... Can you hear him?

Three elderly sisters live in a crumbling castle in the south of England, closely guarding their secrets, until the chance delivery of a 50-year-old letter to the mother of London book editor, Edie Burchill.

As a teenager, Edie's mother was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle during the Blitz and lived with author Raymond Blythe and his three daughters, twins Persephone and Seraphina, and Juniper. When Edie has an opportunity to read her mother's letter and to learn that her mother actually lived with the author of her favorite children's book, The True History of the Mud Man, she naturally wants to learn all she can about her mother's time there, the castle, and the Blythes. The thick, sticky spiderweb of secrets she blunders into has been in place for decades, and as they are exposed to the light of day, there will be repercussions for them all.

I loved Morton's first two books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. The author's descriptive, atmospheric writing swept me away into these stories for long periods of time, and when I came up for air, I had to blink a few times to bring the world into focus. Not so with The Distant Hours.

With the exception of The True History of the Mud Man-- a children's book written by one of the characters-- which is truly creepy and stirred the hair on the back of my neck, I was never transported by the story. The book felt too much like the gothic romances by Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt I read as a teenager.

Although Morton's characterizations are as excellent as they were in her first two books, once the cast of characters was in place, it was relatively easy for me to decipher all the secrets and know what happened at Milderhurst Castle. And... since I wasn't transported by the story, the book felt bloated and very slow-moving.

Has this put me off Kate Morton's writing? No. Besides, I really wouldn't call this a "bad" book, merely an average one. I enjoyed her first two books so much that I'll still be watching for the next.


  1. I haven't yet read any of Kate Morton's books, but I fully intend to. I've heard such good things. I laughed about your Dorothy Eden/Victoria Holt comment. I loved those type of books in my youth and I remember them fondly now. Not sure I would love them quite as much, but I still like to think about them.

  2. Cathy - Thanks for this review. I'm sorry to hear that you weren't as "blown away" by this novel as you were by the earlier ones. The premise of it is so intriguing!!! I'll still probably look for it, just because the whole idea of it interests me...

  3. I've been looking forward to this book, so I'm disappointed to see you didn't love it more.

  4. The only Morton book I have read is The Forgotten Garden, but I really enjoyed it so I will likely read her other two books.

  5. Oh no because this book is BIG in size! I have The Forgotten Garden and this one so I'll start with the Garden one first!

  6. I've heard that this one is disappointing in comparison to The Forgotten Garden, so I haven't picked it up. I've been reading The Forgotten Garden on a kindle app on my husband's ipad for about six months. I like the book, but I keep forgetting that I can actually read it on our kindle since I got a new adapter plug for it. :)

  7. This is the only Kate Morton book I've read and I was very disappointed in it. I'd seen her praised over and over and this one was mediocre at best. I finished it, hoping it would redeem itself ad it never did. I may still pick up The Forgotten Garden because I've seen enough reviews where people say it's better than The Distant Hours.

  8. I loved The House at Riverton, but have put off reading this one because of the size, I think. Sorry to hear that it didn't measure up...another reason to keep putting it off...

  9. I agree this wasn't as captivating as her first two, but I think it worked better for me than it did for you. I'm sorry you didn't love it, here's hope you are sucked in by her next one!

  10. Kay-- I know I wouldn't love them now because, although I loved the comfort of the gothic formula when I was a teenager, I tend to steer away from it now. :)

    Margot-- I'd suggest that you read one of her other books.

    Kathy-- I was quite disappointed myself.

    Lola-- Good idea!

    Leah-- Another good idea! :)

    Alyce-- Creatures of habit we are!

    Holly-- With the experience of hindsight, I'd say that you should read The Forgotten Garden. Much much better.

    TBG-- Yes, indeed!

    Swapna-- Perhaps you hadn't read Eden and Holt as I did? LOL I hope the magic returns in her fourth, too!

  11. Bummer you didn't like it more than you did. The description makes it sound really good. I'm going to have to put the author on my wish list since I've never ready anything by the author before.

  12. I was rather disappointed that you found this not as good as her previous two! It is on my wishlist and till now I was looking forward to it, I will look out for a few more reviews as curious to see if your opinion is the same as the majority or not. Thanks an honest review is always appreciated.

  13. Kris-- I don't think I have to stress that you should read one of the other two books!

    Lindy-- I checked on Amazon, and of 110 reviews over half gave it 4 and 5 stars. 30 reviews found some problems with the book.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!