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The Distant Hours: A Novel Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A letter posted in 1941 finally reaches its destination in 1992 with powerful repercussions for Edie Burchill, a London book editor, in this enthralling romantic thriller from Australian author Morton (The Forgotten Garden). At crumbling Milderhurst Castle live elderly twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger half-sister, Juniper, the three eccentric spinster daughters of the late Raymond Blythe, author of The True History of the Mud Man, a children's classic Edie adores. Juniper addressed the letter to Meredith, Edie's mother, then a young teen evacuated to Milderhurst during the Blitz. Edie, who's later invited to write an introduction to a reprint of Raymond's masterpiece, visits the seedily alluring castle in search of answers. Why was her mother so shattered by the contents of a letter sent 51 years earlier? And what happened to soldier Thomas Cavill, Juniper's long-missing fiancé and Meredith's former teacher? Despite the many competing narratives, the answers will stun readers. 5-city author tour. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Edie Burchill leads a quiet life as the young vice-president of a small London publishing house. On a trip to meet with a potential author, she gets lost and accidentally discovers Milderhurst Castle, the once stately home in which, as a child, her mother was billeted during WWII. Edie senses a mystery to be uncovered, especially since her normally distant mother burst into tears after receiving a long-lost letter from the castle. Edie manages to get acquainted with the castle’s occupants, including the mysterious Blythe sisters—Percy, Saffy, and the emotionally damaged Juniper. Also present is the ghost of their father, Raymond, famous author of terrifying children’s books and overbearing patriarch. As the secrets behind Milderhurst Castle slowly reveal themselves, Edie discovers a family victimized by its own history and haunted by its memories as well as a mother eager to make up for lost time. In the tradition of the classic gothic novels, The Distant Hours is a spellbinding journey, a mystery whose well-paced revelations provide a surprising and deeply satisfying read. --Carol Gladstein

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439152780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439152782
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (702 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Morton is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author. She has sold more than 10 million books in 38 countries. The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog), The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours and The Secret Keeper are all global bestsellers. Kate's fifth novel, The Lake House, has just been published.

Kate grew up in the mountains of southeast Queensland and lives with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specialising in 19th century tragedy and contemporary gothic novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

228 of 242 people found the following review helpful By Misha on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Why is it that books that you love the most are the hardest to describe? I sat in front of my laptop for more than a hour , after I had finished reading the book and yet was unable to formulate a word other than "WOW!".

Kate Morton is one of my top 5 favorite authors. I loved her other 2 books and I devoured the 600 plus pages of this book in less than one day.I was incapable of sleeping - the story and the characters pulled me in so deep that sleep was really the last thought I had.

I had been awaiting this book more than any other book this year. The wait has been more than worth it.

There is such a haunting quality to this book which makes it one that you cannot forget easily.There were sentences and whole paragraphs that still resonate in my ears.Kate Morton's beautiful writing is one of the major reasons why I am such a big fan of hers.Her lyrical prose will stay with you. I can actually quote lines from this book (something I thought I was not capable of)- such was the writing.

The setting , a gothic castle, is a character in itself. Such is the author's writing that the castle seems as alive as its occupants.In its veins, runs the secrets from long ago.Kate Morton's breathtaking description of the castle will make you feel as if you are there.Her descriptions are so evocative, so beautiful that it leaves you wanting for more.

Entwined with the suspense element is a heart-wrenching story of three sisters that won't fail to move you.The sisters and their story will break your heart. I felt their pain, their fears . Imagine being a prisoner in your own home with no dreams or hope for a future. I could feel the castle walls binding them, suffocating them.
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138 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
A rundown castle, tightly held family secrets and a literary mystery lie at the center of this novel. Throw in a long lost letter, forbidden romance, family madness and ghostly whispers in the dark and you get a gothic style mystery which would be the perfect book to read by the fire on a stormy night.

The book kicks off in 1992 when a letter posted during the war arrives for Meredith Burchill. For the first time, her daughter Edie learns that her mother was evacuated from London for 18 months during World War 2. Meredith spent that time living in Milderhurst Castle in Kent, home to the famous writer Raymond Blythe and his three daughters. Blythe's claim to fame is that he penned a book which became a children's classic: The True History of the Mud Man. This also happens to be Edie's favorite book. Edie visits the castle and meets with the three daughters, now elderly ladies. She has an unnerving encounter with the youngest daughter, Juniper, which makes her realize that there are some dark family secrets which her mother may be a part of. Why have the sisters never left the castle? What had tormented Raymond Blythe in his final years? Is Juniper's madness purely because her fiance jilted her 40 years previously? Why was Raymond Blythe so secretive about the origins of his book?

The story then jumps back to 1941, and from there it moves between the past and the present day. Kate Morton does a skillful job of gradually peeling back layers of the onion, so that the true story is gradually pieced together over the course of the book. What this does mean however it that it takes quite a while to get going. The early chapters have a lot of background information which takes a while to become relevant.
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on November 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Okay, that infamous line is never used, but it might as well have been. There WERE plenty of dark and stormy nights in this deliciously atmospheric novel of suspense. Like Ms. Morton's previous novels, this is a tale told in two times. The "contemporary" story is set in 1992, and events are set in motion by the delivery of a letter 51 years late. Protagonist Edie Burchill is visiting her parents when the letter arrives, and she witnesses her mother's unexpected and unexplained emotional response to the missive.

Questioning her mother, Meredith, Edie learns for the first time that her mother was evacuated from London during WWII. For over a year, she lived in the country with the sisters Blythe and their elderly father at gothic Castle Middlehurst. Meredith is inexplicably reticent to discuss her past. This is merely one more example of the distance that Edie has always felt with her mother. Edie finds the incident odd, but it fades quickly into the past--until months later, lost on a road trip, she stumbles upon Castle Middlehurst and her curiosity is fiercely awakened. On a whim, Edie arranges a tour of the castle and discovers, among other things, that all three sisters are alive and in residence. After several introductory chapters setting up the story, the book moves back and forth between Edie's answer-seeking in 1992, and chapters set during the actual events that occurred between 1939 and 1941, seen from the POV of several of the story's participants.

There is SO much more to the story told in this epic novel. The Blythes are a literary family, and patriarch Raymond is the author of the children's classic The True History of the Mud Man that inspired Edie's love of literature and eventual career in publishing. Ms.
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