“It started with a letter. A letter that had been lost a long time, waiting out half a century in a forgotten postal bag in the dim attic of a nondescript house in Bermondsey….[I]t is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader…“
The Distant Hours, Kate Morton
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton was published in November of 2010 and is 576 pages. M J Rose recommended the book and said it was one of her favorite of last year, and since I tend to love her recommendations (and her books) I bought it. From page one I knew that I would love this book, and upon finishing it (at 1:30 in the morning, while I was sick, after reading it for three nights) I promptly went out and bought all of Morton’s other books.
The story begins when Edie Burchill’s mother, Meredith, who has always been emotionally inaccessible to Edie, receives a letter in 1992 that had been buried in a closet since 1941, that reduces her to tears. Edie is shocked by her mother’s reaction and wonders what it is from her mother’s past that has cast such a long and enduring shadow over her life.
It’s not long after that Edie finds Milderhurst Castle, the ancient castle that has cast the shadow. It is the former residence of Raymond Blythe, the famed, reclusive author of Edie’s favorite childhood tale, The True History of the Mud Man, and current residence of his strange, elderly spinster daughters: twins, Persephone and Seraphina, and their younger half-sister, Juniper.
When Edie is commissioned to write a new introduction to the old book, she’s given access to the castle, the sisters, and the secrets of their past. What she finds out about her mother, the Blythe family, and the terrible, stormy night that started Juniper’s descent into madness so many years ago changes all of their lives forever.
With its layered story lines, book and letter excerpts, multiple time periods, spooky castles, and unusual characters, The Distant Hours is the perfect Gothic novel. I enjoyed trying to piece together the mysteries, and devoured the book in just four days. If you love books like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, or The Thirteenth Tale you’ll love The Distant Hours. I give it my highest recommendation.