Synopsis (from Amazon)
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 thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst 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 . . .
Well I must say this kept me on the edge of my seat right to the very end. At one point when I thought we would never find out all the secrets I was actually shouting at the book “But what happened?!” It may have been better if one of the secrets wasn’t revealed (highlight for spoiler) If one wasn’t I would have chosen Juniper’s secret about the blood on her clothes simply because what I thought it would be it wasn’t and it was the one that had me shouting at the book. It would have added a bit of a puzzle for the reader to try to work out if not all the secrets were revealed, but seeing as I was getting frustrated when I just thought a secret wouldn’t be revealed maybe it is a good thing there was nothing left to wonder about.
I found the way Kate Morton wove the different secrets into the story was really clever. A number of times I was convinced I had worked out a secret only to find that everything I thought had been evidence really wasn’t. It was clever the way Morton walked the reader down one path only to suddenly veer off in another direction, which I at least never expected.
I found the characters quite engaging. Only real problem was that there seemed to be to many similarities between Saffy, young Meredith and Edie. I could understand with Edie and Meredith, I imagine that some of Meredith would have rubbed off on Edie, even though Meredith had changed by then.
I can’t say I really liked Percy, although there was something about her strength and her loyalty that I admired, and I certainly found her an interesting character to read. In some ways Percy was the hardest character to figure out. Immediately she seemed quite straight forward but as more secrets were revealed the reader is made to challenge their perceptions. . She seemed very controlling, but her intentions, at least, were good.
I found Juniper’s character very interesting too, although I found her more likeable than Percy. I’m still not entirely sure I have her figured out.
Only real problem I had with The Distant Hours is that it took a while to get going. Despite the fact that I had been really looking forward to reading it I had started planning a disappointed review by the end of the first chapter. I’m glad everything changed.