Friday, January 7, 2011

Literary Friday: The Distant Hours

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This week I read The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.  I have been so excited to read it because I love The Forgotten Garden.  The Distant Hours has a much more Gothic vibe than her previous books, and it has the same decaying and erie atmosphere as Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale...with twins no less!

The book is about Edie Burchill, a young book editor working for a small publisher in Notting Hill. Her love for reading began when she was ten years old and recovering from an illness.Her mother brought home a library book entitled The Mud Man by Raymond Blythe to help young Edie pass the time as she recovered.  The Mud Man is a fairy tale about a man creeping from the mud of a moat, scaling a castle wall, and taking away the young girl who calls the castle home. But the mud man and the inspiration behind him is much more than a mere best-selling classic.

One Sunday afternoon while Edie is visiting her parents for their traditional Sunday lunch, a fifty year old letter arrives for Edie's mother, Meredith.  The letter visibly distresses Meredith, and Edie is determined to learn why a fifty year old letter would force a sob from her normally stoic mother. Edie soon discovers that during World War II, a thirteen-year old Meredith was billeted in Kent at Milderhurst Castle: home to Raymond Blythe and his three daughters. Meredith has never shared this with her family. Edie decides to visit the castle, and the book weaves a tale of two families connected through the horrors of war.

Kate Morton's descriptions of life before, during, and after the Blizt are excellent.  Her depictions of family dynamics are spot on, if not eccentric at times.  I couldn't help but feel so sad for the Blythe sisters.  I felt regret for them and for their choices.  Milderhurst Castle seems like such a cold, bleak, and lonely place.  Seraphina Blythe says that: "Happiness in life is not a given, it must be seized." This is hard-earned wisdom I wish the younger Seraphina had known and lived.

The book lags in the middle a bit.  I needed information, and it took many pages before Morton reveals it.  However, patience is definitely a virtue, and I feel totally rewarded in finishing it. The ending is definitely unexpected.  I kept thinking about Jane Eyre (one of my all time favorite classics) while reading this book, and Kate Morton does mention the novel in The Distant Hours. There is a castle, madness, fires, unrequited love, and ghosts.

I have always wanted to visit and stay in an Irish castle.  Although the novel is set in Kent, I no longer have any interest in spending the night in a castle anytime soon.  Edith's experience ruins it for me!  I loved this book; no one writes about family secrets better than Kate Morton.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

1 comment:

  1. This afternoon I'll go to the library!!!Then I'll tell you...Kisses,Annalisa

    ReplyDelete

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