Summary

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a 13-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family.
Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
©2010 Kate Morton (P)2010 Kate Morton
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By pollyfitz on 13-11-13

another great book

This book had me guessing and in the end, unusually, I was wrong. However it isn't a whodunnit, it isn't a mystery novel, it isn't love story - it's all three. A beautifully written story that spans more than 5 decades it brings the characters to life so completely that you feel you could meet them in the street and know them at once.It broke my heart although in the end it was a happy ending. A masterpiece. My only fault, and a minor one, was the narrators difficulty in capturing the cockney accent, it came out a bit too Aussie. But that was a small price to pay for an otherwise faultless rendering.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By R. J. Gladden on 15-01-16

Three Sisters and the rest

This is a story of three sisters and their complicated relationship with each other, their parents, particularly their overbearing father and the people who move in and out of their lives as told by close observer's who happen to be mother and daughter.

If it sounds hard to follow, that's because it is.

The characters are well defined by both the author and the narrator of the story, so that is not the problem but it is hard, towards the end of this really long book, to retain any sympathy for any of them. I kept wanting to scream "Get on with it"! But then I'm not noted for my patience.

The other difficulty which is more specific to Audible books, is that the action flits backwards and forwards between WW2 (and sometimes before) and the present day. This can be confusing. Why it is most confusing in Audible books is that you have no visual reference point. In a book, you can refer to the beginning of the chapter or section for ease, in an Audible, that reference is not easily found.

The other important relationship is that between the narrator of the story (Edie) and her own mother (Meredith) who spent time with the sisters as an evacuee during WW2. It is hard to understand why that device was brought into play, it added little to the story, but much to the confusion.

The whole book is riddled with complexities and character flaws and mental ill health to the point where it was really difficult to find any joy and I just longed for the final paragraph and someone to please put me out of my misery. Which perhaps is a little harsh.

Caroline Lee did sterling work narrating this epic and she has a beautiful voice but I can't help but think that someone with an Australian accent was wrongly cast playing the parts of English women during this era.

I sometimes wonder if it's me that can't cope with complexity and after all, one woman's meat is another woman's poison, and trust me, there is an overindulgence of poison, hatred and bitterness in this novel.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Tinker on 03-12-12

Not enough hours .....


What can I say? I have read all of Kate Morton that you have to offer and now feel a need for more. She is a brilliant story teller and the book, as usual, is narrated magnificintly.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By brittanny on 14-06-13

A bit disappointing, but not a lost cause

What did you like best about The Distant Hours? What did you like least?

The concept of the story was what initially enticed me to chose The Distant Hours. I love anything to do with books, castles, and dark family secrets. I have read Morton's The Forgotten Garden and really enjoyed it so I thought I would give another one a go and this book has such great reviews, how could I go wrong! However, this audio book fell a little flat for me. Like I said, conceptually this is a great story. It is entertaining and it kept me guessing the whole way through. What I didn't enjoy though was that Morton drags some parts of the story on for ages! I really wish she had cut down the parts about Milderhurst Castle during the war and maybe spent more time focusing on either Eddie's life, or the relationship between Raymond Blythe and his daughter Juniper. There is way too much unnecessary information pumped into the middle of the book and I had a hard time keeping interested in the story. The other thing that bothers me about The Distant Hours is the random sub-plots that do nothing to add to the essential story and feel like empty fillings instead of essential plot elements. One example being the hinted-at lesbian relationship between Percy and Lucy. It just seemed so random to me, as if Morton was just trying to throw in obscure elements for the sake of another plot twist. The book already has enough interesting plot twist to not need trivial ones.
On the good side of things, I thought that the characters were all fairly well developed (except for Seraphina). I like it when an author can actually make me shout out loud and shake my fist at characters out of anger when they do something irritating (such as when Percy stops Seraphina from pursuing her dreams of leaving the castle).

Any additional comments?

Overall a good concept and a decent enough performance, but very boring at times and some of the plot twists seem a bit forced. If someone is interested in getting into Kate Morton's books, I think I would recommend The Forgotten Garden first over The Distant Hours.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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