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Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Millderhurst 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 Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond. In the grand and glorious Millderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie's mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers. Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother's riddle, she, too, is drawn to Millderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance 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 Millderhurst 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...

I am a great fan of Kate Morton’s previous books and was excited when I received a copy of the manuscript of her new book, The Distant Hours.
The book has two distinct storylines which intertwine throughout the book. The first, being in the present, told by Edie and the other being from the past, centring around the life of the Blythe family.
The book begins with a letter, which had been lost in the post, being delivered to Edie’s mother some 40 years late. Edie was surprised to discover her mum had been evacuated to Milderhurst and billeted with the Blythe family; however her mum seemed unwilling to tell her anymore about the time.
After leaving her mother and returning to her own flat, Edie began to think about what her mother had told her and has hazy memories about visiting Milderhurst in her childhood.
A chance work meeting and a busy motorway sent Edie on a diversion which led her to a small village, Milderhurst. She had the feeling she had been there before, she spends the night and arranges a guided tour with one of the sisters to Milderhurst castle to investigate further, having had the feeling she had been there before.
As Edie leaves the village the following day, she has with more questions and starts to investigate further when she gets home. Has she been there before? Why won’t her mum answer her questions? Who was the mysterious Mr Cavill? Who and what was the real story behind the Mud Man.
Following her father’s admittance to hospital and subsequent bed rest at home in which he also read ‘The true history of the mud man’, he encourages Edie to help him investigate the truth behind the story. Edie is further helped when, out of the blue, she is contacted by a publisher who tells her that the Blythe sisters have asked for her personally to write a foreword for the republication of the book. Another visit to Milderhurst leads Edie to answering her questions and finding the real story behind the Mud Man. Edie has to decide what to announce to the world and what should stay within the family. However, before Edie can discuss the matter with the family, another tragedy happens to decide Edie’s mind.
I really enjoyed this book and liked the way two stories were told throughout the book. The story of the Blythe sisters was intriguing and each chapter developed their story further, giving insight into their backgrounds. As the book continued, secrets were revealed in both the past and to Edie. The modern day story was another interesting story, exploring the story of the relationships between Edie, her mother and father. It also told of the twin sisters, both looking after their sister but also protecting her from the world, in case she revealed something about their past.
The book has been split into many sections, each with small, manageable chapters, which were easily devoured. Throughout the book I found myself guessing what each secret was and who was involved and although I was able to unravel some of the secrets, others were a shock to discover.
The cover depicts exactly how I how imagine Milderhurst to look when you stood at those imposing gates.
I would recommend this book to all Morton fans. I would like to thank pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this to review.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, I can't believe you got to read this already! It's one of my most anticipated books of the year!!! :D