The Distant Hours

By Kate Morton

The Short Take:

In the best gothic romance tradition, this book combines family secrets, craziness, a long lost letter, eccentric characters, even a decaying castle complete with tower, filled-in moat, and secret passage. How can you possibly resist? I couldn’t.


Though set in the recent past, the roots of this enjoyable novel lie much farther back in the creation of a timeless children’s book, Raymond Blythe’s The True History of the Mud Man, and the years of England’s entry into  WWII (yes, this is fiction and there is no such book — unfortunately).

Two generations of an ordinary modern family become intricately involved with Blythe’s daughters and their historic castle. Secrets abound among the characters, as they all strive to hide lost loves and frustrated plans. Until Edie. She seeks to unravel the mysteries and lies that strain her relationship with her parents as well as those that trap the three Blythe sisters together.

This haunting gothic novel brings together all the elements you want most in one gloriously complex tale. It contains so many half-truths, lies, and omissions that even those most skilled at guessing a mystery’s outcome are bound to be at least partly wrong.

A Little Plot:

Edie’s mother receives a letter that has been lost for 40 years. Though obviously shocked by its contents, she hides her reasons. Edie pushes for information and discovers that during the war her mother was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle and the letter came from there. But her mother reveals little else.

When Edie stumbles across the castle while lost in Kent, she wrangles a tour and meets the elderly Blythe twins and their mad younger sister. She doesn’t tell them who she is or about her mother, creating secrets of her own. But her visit sets the stage for the unraveling of family intrigues that stretch back for decades.

And, let me tell you, there are a LOT of intrigues.

For more about Kate Morton, The Distant Hours, and her other books, click here.

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