The Distant Hours is Kate Morton’s 3rd book, joining The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden in a fine tradition of delightful mysteries on the grounds of grand old houses.
This one follows Edith Burchill as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sisters Blythe (Percy, Saffy and Juniper) who have spent their entire lives at Milderhurst Castle. It all begins when a letter is delivered to Edie’s mother, Meredith, 50 years late. Turns out that Meredith had been evacuated to Milderhurst Castle duringWorld War II, something Edie had never known. When she goes to the castle herself to take a look at the old place, she discovers that it was the home of Raymond Blythe, the author of her very favourite book, The True History of the Mud Man.
There’s a new mystery to unravel at every turn and I found that it took me a while to get into, but the payoff at the end was fantastic. I was left breathless with the result. Just when you think that Morton has told you all, you look to see that there are still pages and pages left to read and she may yet take you in a completely different direction.
Morton is truly gifted in creating entire worlds for you to explore at her direction. Milderhurst Castle is the most incredible setting for a story and the Sisters Blythe are magnificent keepers of the castle and all of its secrets. I found that every encounter with them left me with a different impression of each woman.
At the same time, there were moments when I found myself thinking that everything was a little too perfect. Certain things resolved themselves a little too easily. For example, Edie and her mother don’t really get along in the beginning, Edie believing herself to have nothing in common with this serious, practical woman who doesn’t seem to have a passion for anything. *Spoiler Alert* It’s almost a little too predictable that by the end they should be skipping into the sunset, arms linked.
Its easy to overlook this, though, when you are fighting sleep to find out what really happened to Juniper Blythe. Why does Meredith want to pretend none of it happened? And was the Mud Man based on something real?
I always get a little sad when I finish books like this. I know all of its secrets now, there’s nothing more for me to find out.