Sunday, February 13, 2011

by request: book review of "The Distant Hours"

Some people have asked me to continue writing review - Yes or no? If no one is reading them here I probably won't take the time. I am not sending them out as a bulk email anymore but I could post here when I read a good book. This was my last review written for the column but never published.

“The Distant Hours”
by Kate Morton

When a female friend (or complete stranger at the grocery store) asks for a good book to read, I suggest a novel by Kate Morton. Gentlemen, I’ve given you plenty of suggestions lately for books you would like so skip this review and pick up the TV remote – it’s a definitely a book for the ladies.

Kate Morton books include “The House at Riverton”, “The Forgotten Garden” and her newest “The Distant Hours”, published in November of 2010. They are books about old houses, old families and old women. Sound boring? Not at all – these mysteries will keep you up late at night reading generational secrets, riveting love stories and haunting endings.

“The Distant Hours” begins with the first few pages of an old book titled “The True History of the Mud Man”. Edie read this book as a child and now wonders if it’s more than fiction. “Hush… Can you hear him? The trees can. They are the first to know that he is coming. Listen! The trees of the deep, dark wood, shivering and jittering their leaves like papery hulls of beaten silver; the sly wind, snaking through their tops, whispering that soon it will begin. The trees know for they are old and they have seen it all before.”

The mysterious book about a terrifying muddy man scaling the walls of an old castle to kidnap a child was written by the father of the three Blyth spinsters more than fifty years ago. As little girls, the twins and their baby sister lived under his famous shadow in Milderhurst castle outside of London in Kent. They live there still, hiding their secrets and his.

One afternoon Edie watches her mother react with shock when a letter that should have been delivered fifty years earlier arrives. Her mother had been evacuated out of London as a young girl to live with the Blyths during World War II and the letter is from the youngest daughter Juniper. Edie begins to research her mother’s past and discovers the terrible truth of what happened in the distant hours at Milderhurst.

“The Distant Hours” is a gothic style novel with twists of fate, dark family secrets and madness lurking in turret rooms. I enjoyed traveling between the 1940’s and the 1990’s as Edie unravels the mystery of the Blyths and discovers her own mother’s secrets. It’s definitely on my top ten of 2010 fiction reading list.

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