Book Review – The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Right before I plunge into an intense writing assignment – such as the upcoming Nanowrimo – I like to empty my head of the thoughts scrambling around, wrestling each other for attention like a group of first graders with their hands above their heads, bottoms squirming in their seats.

The best way to accomplish this, for me, is to delve into another world – someone else’s thoughts and eras.

This time is was The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.

I wasn’t familiar with her work.  I hadn’t read other reviews.  I simply picked it up in a bookstore, read the back blurb offering mystery, suspense, love, secrets, and family drama set in England against two time frames – 1941 and 1992.

A decaying castle, spinster sisters, gothic intrigue.  It felt divine just holding it in my hand.

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I could barely wait to read the next page and the page after that, and so on.  Her web of suspense is woven so expertly that I couldn’t decide which era I wanted to read about next and was never disappointed when the chapter flipped time periods.  Let me explain.

It begins in 1992 when a lost letter finds its way to Edith Burchill’s mother – Meredith – who opens it in Edie’s presence and then tries to cover up the effect that it has on her.  We soon learn that Edie’s mother had been evacuated to the countryside, along with many of London’s children, during World War II in order for them to escape the bombing and constant disruption and danger.  Milderhurst Castle was where Meredith ended up being taken in – the grand home of a famous, though slightly mad, writer and his three eccentric daughters.

So the novel takes us back and forth between the two time frames.  This is often a concept that irritates me.  One time frame is sometimes more intriguing than the other with most of the mystery happening in one and the figuring it all out occurring in the other.  When this happens, I can barely wait to get back to the time frame with the action and the suspense.  But Kate Morton has layered it into both, and it is a joy to be carried along into the present or the historical past – either offering its share of intrigue.

If you love the beautiful arrangement of words, you will enjoy this as well.  Her writing style is uniquely her own with breathtaking and sensory inducing descriptions of every day occurences such as the striking of a match or the way a wrist might tangle around itself in a nervous grab of a too-tight skirt.

I guess you tell that I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it wholeheartedly.

Kate Morton has made a new fan out of me and suspect that she will with you as well.



  1. Oh, if only I had some spare time in which to read, I would certainly find this book. It sounds wonderful, and it’s obvious that you enjoyed it!

  2. Sounds like one I should add to my list. I hope writing is going well. Are you really over 13,000 words. That’s awesome!

    1. Yeah! The writing is going well so far. I don’t usually get really stuck until 26,000 or so. Then – generally speaking – I hit a wall. We’ll see if I can break through it this year.

  3. Tweeted and promoted to my 5000 + followers. Would love a return of favor. Please share some tweets/likes for my article (new one) on Technorati. It’s

    Thanks. In support, Carole

    You can find my writing at the following links.

    Google’s e-zine: Journalist, Commentator, Reviewer Technorati

    Blog: Editor, Manager, Writer/Creator The Fat and the Skinny A Christian Apologist’s Sonnets

    Carole M. Di Tosti, Ph.D. 83-33 118th Apt 6H Kew Gardens, NY 11415

  4. Ooh good. I have read The Forgotten Garden and the House at Riverton, but not this one. I am just about ready for a new book! Thanks!

  5. Sounds interesting. If only I didn’t have boxes and a Kindle full of books to read! Nice idea to put Ann’s (or do we call her Sharon) poetry link in the sidebar. Did she ask, or did you volunteer?

    1. I call Ann by first one name and then the other. Her site is Sharon Ann, so I listed it that way. And she didn’t ask me to put it there, I just volunteered – in the spirit of Epoisses!

  6. Thank you for the splendid recommendation. I am always on the lookout for a new book and will try and find this one.

  7. Renee, don’t you love it when you buy a book and it’s money well spent? I say this because I cannot believe the price of books nowadays! I am seriously considering getting a Kindle. Traveling with books is not practical and this summer on the beach, I missed the opportunity to read more than the one book I brought along. How wonderful that you liked this book. It certainly sounds intriguing. I think I too would be a little distracted jumping between two time periods, especially if one period is better than the other one. That said, the plot sounds very interesting! 🙂

    1. I embarrassingly admit that I haven’t joined the Kindle ranks yet either, but as you say, am considering it. They’ve come a long way since they first hit the market. And for traveling – should be perfect.

      1. I had our text books on Kindle at Essoyes. So much easier to travel with than a bunch of books. My previous option when traveling had been not to bring books and hope to find a bookshelf in a hotel with “leave behinds.”

  8. Thanks for sharing. Would love a return of favor for tweeting and promoting you. Share some likes on my latest Technorati article? Thanks. It’s

    Appreciate the support. Supporting you back, Carole

    You can find my writing at the following links.

    Google’s e-zine: Journalist, Commentator, Reviewer Technorati

    Blog: Editor, Manager, Writer/Creator The Fat and the Skinny A Christian Apologist’s Sonnets

    Carole M. Di Tosti, Ph.D. 83-33 118th Apt 6H Kew Gardens, NY 11415

  9. What an intruiging, exciting book that takes the reader’s thoughts to the setting of the book, amking every reading spellbinding. Great summary. Thanks for sharing this. Have a great weekend.

  10. Isn’t a wonderful surprise to read something from a new-to-you author and LOVE it! Same thing happened to me a couple weeks ago. I’m on my second book by that author. I’ll have to check my library for this title. Thanks for the recommendation!

  11. I’ve heard she is a great writer but as of yet haven’t read any of her work. You have inspired me to get a copy. Thanks for a great review!

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