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The Distant Hours [Hardcover]

Kate Morton
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 16.47 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 1.09  
Hardcover, Large Print 12.61  
Hardcover, 14 Oct 2010 16.47  
Paperback 5.59  
MP3 CD 6.43  
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Book Description

14 Oct 2010

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 . . .

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The Distant Hours + The House at Riverton + The Forgotten Garden
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle; First UK Edition edition (14 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230748325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230748323
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of southeast Queensland, Australia. She has degrees in Dramatic Art and English Literature and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and two young sons in Brisbane.

Product Description


'A dilapidated castle, aristocratic twins, a troubled sister and a series of dark secrets cast a whispery spell in Morton's third book' --Marie Claire

'An absorbing and haunting read' --Woman & Home

'A bewitching tale of family secrets and betrayal' --Good Housekeeping

'Shades of I Capture the Castle haunt Kate Morton's The Distant Hours as protagonist Edie is drawn into the past.' --InStyle

'Enthralling romantic thriller... will stun readers'
--Publishers Weekly

'In this, her third book, Morton writes in her usual engaging style, taking the reader to the heart of the Blythe family, so that from wartime evacuations through to the machinations of modern-day publishing, you live through every twist and turn.' --Waterstones Books Quarterly

'A page-turner of mystery and suspense.' --ASOS magazine

'Kate Morton's stunning new novel will not disappoint' --Best Magazine

'Kate Morton's clever and compelling new novel is yet more evidence of her place in both the bestseller charts and the hearts of her readers. In this atmospheric and evocative tale of a daughter's journey into her mother's past, a long-lost letter leads Edie Burchill to Milderhurst Castle in Kent and a forgotten world... An intriguing and beautifully observed story.' --Lancashire Evening Post

'Morton (The Forgotten Garden) has quickly established herself as a master of modern gothic, producing complicated and completely satisfying historical mysteries. Her third novel solidifies her dominion... Featuring a fresh and thrilling gothic mystery, cinematic storytelling, and fully developed characters who possess layers of deliciously surprising secrets, this complex story is developed at a leisurely but compelling pace that keeps readers hooked. Recommended for a wide readership, including mystery lovers and historical fiction fans.' --Library Journal

'Morton's writing has enough atmosphere, intrigue and, whisper it, intelligence for The Distant Hours to wheedle its way into the most cynical of hearts...The Distant Hours proves there will always be a readership for melodramatic tales of family intrigue - and Morton is adeptly carrying that tradition into the 21st century.' --Metro

'A cleverly crafted and beautifully descriptive novel.'

About the Author

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of southeast Queensland, Australia. She has degrees in Dramatic Art and English Literature and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and two young sons in Brisbane.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Try again Kate 6 Feb 2011
Too repetitive, too long, too much build-up and altogether too much of everything.

I kept thinking 'hurry up and get to the point'. Yes, we know it's raining, or autumn or whatever. Too much descriptive text that it overwhelms you and detracts from the story.

I read this one on Kindle and didn't even have the satisfaction of throwing the book at the cat. (Sorry, wouldn't really do that).

Having said all that, as I enjoyed her first two books so much, if she writes another - I will definitely still try it.
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141 of 151 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly diverting, but WAY too long.... 15 Nov 2010
By L. Bretherton VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What on earth went wrong with this book? Was there no editor involved? It is at least 100 pages too long, there is endless overlapping of plot and descriptions of rain and thunderstorms. Chapter after chapter underlining the terrible fate of the lost love of Juniper, and then this huge build-up towards the final revelation of what actually happened... and.... it all seems a bit of a damp squib. After all sorts of dark references to the Father and his power over the 3 sisters, any suspense just fizzles away into the muddy moat.

Yes, there is some lovely descriptive language along the way, but SO much repetition, and so many allusions to other classics - Great Expectations, Rebecca, I Capture the Castle, and of course, the author's own first two books.

In the end, after days of struggling to reach the end of this heavyweight tome, I felt like throwing it across the room. So many words for such a small outcome.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
It was a dark and stormy night in the mysterious castle as a terrible crime was committed - an author bored her readers to death with over 600 pages of tedious prose ...
Three elderly sisters wander about in the dark (along with the plot), muttering about the awful events of the past but never quite revealing what they actually were. The rain keeps falling, some people are bad, sad or mad (and possibly all three), and everyone's terribly worried. Thunder crashes, and - wait for it - lives are ruined forever. But whatever happens, they must NEVER discuss it amongst themselves. This doesn't stop them boring us poor readers with it, however. Page after page of internal monologue and unconvincing descriptions of England during the war are occasionally interrupted by scenes set in an equally unrealistic present, in which a dull girl tries to solve the mystery of what inspired an unpleasant sounding but apparently famous book.
Hands up all those who guessed at all the so-called dark secrets long before they were eventually revealed? And by then, did anyone actually care?
This book is crying out for an editor with a hatchet. That is, if a story so drowning in cliches could ever be saved.
Whatever Kate Morton was trying to achieve, and at times you can almost see what it was, I'm afraid it hasn't come off. She has obviously been heavily influenced by classics like Jane Eyre, I Capture the Castle, Great Expectations, and Rebecca: maybe she should read them again, this time paying more attention to how it should be done. And while she's at it, she could try reading Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, too.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where was the editor?? 15 Nov 2010
By squoosh
Having really enjoyed The House at Riverton and quite enjoying The Forgotten Garden I was so disappointed with The Distant Hours. Running at least two hundred pages too long, this book was flabby, laboured and self indulgent. At times it was like wading through treacle with the purple prose that seemed to take up two thirds of the book. As for the story, it just all felt too familiar and meandered along quite predictably. I do love a good family saga set in a crumbling country pile but the author needs to bring some kind of freshness and originality to this well worn genre.

Everything was just so overwrought, I quite liked some of the characters, but didn't care enough about any of them to really care what happened to any of them. Except maybe Saffy, I quite liked Saffy.

I was expecting to tear through this book but in the end it took me about 6 weeks, periods of which involved putting this book down and reading several others. I really hope that is just a road bump in Kate Morton's career. Here's hoping that she returns to form with her next offering.
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124 of 137 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been blissfully absorbed in this haunting, Gothic tale for the past four days. The dual timeframe/buried secrets style is a bit of cliché now, but when it's done well (like this), I'm hooked.

The story follows publisher Edie Burchill's quest to find out exactly what happened when her mother Meredith was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle during WW2. By co-incidence (or is it?), Edie's favourite childhood book, the dark, mystical True History of the Mud Man, was written by the owner of Milderhurst, Raymond Blythe, and Edie's journey brings her into contact with Raymond's daughters; twins Persephone and Seraphina and their younger sister Juniper.

The twins - dour, practical Percy and meek, kind-hearted Saffy - are wonderfully eccentric in both the wartime and contemporary (1992) threads. The ethereal, damaged Juniper doesn't make much of an impression until about halfway through the book when her tragic story is revealed. Along the way Edie unravels tales of lost love, frustrated amibition, madness and murder. The pace really builds up in the second half of the book, leading to a stormy, rain-soaked denouement in which all the loose ends are tied up very neatly.

This wonderfully atmospheric story has all the right Gothic ingredients for me - books, twins, lost letters, family secrets/betrayal and a dilapidated country house with secret passageways and batty relatives in the attic. I've loved all three of Kate Morton's books now, can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I'd recommend this one to fans of The Thirteenth Tale as I think it fills the gap very nicely while we wait (and wait) for Diane Setterfield's next book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 4 hours ago by Mrs Norma E Peachey
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 14 hours ago by Jac
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 1 day ago by Suzanne
3.0 out of 5 stars Found it quite difficult to get into, and going ...
Found it quite difficult to get into, and going alternatively from past to present(ish) a bit confusing. But it did become addictive and I did read it all the way through.
Published 2 days ago by Rosie Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Absolutely love Kate Morton as an author.
I have read all 4 of her books so far and am looking forward to the release of her 5th. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Mrs R L Devonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I have just finished reading this amazing book
Another good book by Kate Morton
Published 7 days ago by sue
5.0 out of 5 stars mysterious
I really enjoyed this story. The story turns with every page and I liked the past and present slotting into the jigsaw. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Jayne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Kate Morton writes great books, full of strange happenings and yet quite believable.Recommended read.
Published 8 days ago by Miu miu Lin
3.0 out of 5 stars The Distant Hours
Enjoyed the story but it took a little time to get in the story as all the going back and forward in time took a little getting into
Published 8 days ago by sylvia potter
3.0 out of 5 stars difficult read
Well I have finally made it through this book.It was really heavy going!I have enjoyed other books by this author but this one was like walking through thick treacle! Read more
Published 8 days ago by prebbbs
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