Thursday, 5 January 2012

Book Review: The Distant Hours - Kate Morton

Synopsis - 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 thirteen 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, author os a 1918 children's classic, The True History of the Mud Man.  In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie's mother.  She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, the dangers.

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 fianc√© 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.  The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Review - I borrowed my copy from the library in hardback as one of a selection for my new book group starting next week.  I thought I would read it first just to make sure it was worth offering, especially as it is a thick book which on size alone could be off putting.  I have already read Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden which I enjoyed.  This book was no disappointment either, written in a similar style where present day runs alongside past events.  I was gripped fairly soon into the book and found it quite difficult to put down at the end of the day.  I love it when a book makes you that excited you can't wait to pick it up again.  The only thing that did detract a little for me was the way the book went from the present to the past.  To differentiate the 'past', chapters were numbered, but sometimes they were interwoven with 'present' day chapters.  I don't have a solution to offer as many authors must have this problem, how to separate 'past' and 'present' or different storytellers within a book.  I liked the writing style and the story flowed well.  I did like the ending and the epilogue which summed up the past events.  4*


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