Pete and Repeat were sitting on the fence, Pete fell off and Kate Morton wrote “The Distant Hours”

September 8, 2011 at 9:44 pm 1 comment

“The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton, Published in 2010

This book was pretty okay and I did enjoy it.

But please remember my earlier statements that I am a sucker for a pretty setting and this story takes place in the English countryside, in a castle. So I am a cheap date that way.

Kate Morton wrote “The House at Riverton” which I loved and think everyone should read. She also wrote “The Forgotten Garden” which was pretty good.  But now with “The Distant Hours” Ms. Morton and I find ourselves at a crossroads (I bet this really hurts her feelings).  Morton has found her storyline which goes a little something like – a woman in the present finds out there is a secret from the past and has to find out what it is to understand her family or history or who she is.  The writing toggles between the present and the past slowly revealing the secret that has caused a lot of sorrow and heartbreak, usually needlessly. Morton is good at this storyline.  But much like a relationship that goes on to0 long, it is time to admit you have grown apart, return the ring, move out and find another storyline. You can do it Kate!!!!

In “Distant Hours” Edie, a young, single woman in publishing, finds out that her mother during WWII was evacuated from London to live in a castle on the English countryside with three eccentric sisters, the Blythe Sisters.  Edie begins to wonder why her mom failed to ever mention this part of her life (hint – there is a mystery here). The Blythe Sisters, of Castle Milderhurst are great characters – Percy the eldest is tough and fiercely protective; Saffy, the middle child, is sweet and mothering; and Juniper is the wild, irresponsible artist.  Yes, you know these characters – they frequently grace the pages of many works of fiction. But here, though familiar, they do not feel completely contrived so it is fairly painless.  By the time Edie meets these women they are ancient and Juniper has spent years in lunacy pining for her finance who never came to claim her.  Think Miss Haversham but cuter, nicer and benign.  The other two sisters have been trapped in the castle all this time caring for Juniper.  Strangely, their father wrote a famous story called “The True History of the Mud Man” which Edie read as a child and from this book her love of literature began.  Edie finds herself at the castle trying to find out about the inspiration of the “Mud Man” while seeking to get to know her emotional closed off mother’s history.  Mystery begets mystery which begets secret which begets a 500+ page novel.  The ending was a little disappointing but still okay.

So this novel could have used some editing and could have been more inventive and could have ended better. That said it is a light read that is enjoyable.  And who cares if Dickens cries from the grave “you stole my characters, you crazy Australian writer!!”

Or you could skip this book and just read “The House at Riverton” instead and if it doesn’t make you cry, you aren’t human.


Entry filed under: September 2011 reads. Tags: , , , , .

No snarky title for “Snowflower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See Autumn should always have a good ghost story

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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