Kate Morton’s most recent novel, The Distant Hours, is a dark, moody, fairy-tale entwined novel spanning 60 years. This modern day Gothic novel, while weighed down with excessive detail in parts, is an enthralling read that captures the reader’s attentions and holds it until the last page.
When a letter arrives for her mother, fifty years overdue, Edie Burchill discovers there is much about her mother she did not know. Meredith had been a WWII evacuee to the once famed, but now failing Milderhurst Castle, home of the reclusive Raymond Blythe (incidentally author of young publisher Edie’s favorite book: The True History of the Mud Man). After business takes her out of the city, Edie finds herself lost, but stumbles upon Milderhurst and the lifelong residents, the Blythe sisters. She becomes enthralled in the story of their lives, particularly of youngest sister Juniper, and becomes determined to learn more about them and her mother’s mystery shrouded past.
Edie soon discovers that the castle hides a violent, grief-filled past, and a great many family secrets that hold the Blythe sisters captive behind the crumbling walls. Though this book is lengthy and in need of a little editing (there were a couple of moments where I was confused), the darkly atmospheric, richly layered novel is worth taking the time for, especially if you enjoy the Gothic genre. Bottom line: 3/5, while I like this novel, my favorite Kate Morton novel is The Forgotten Garden and the one I recommend most (how the upcoming The Secret Keeper will be remains to be seen).
Quite a bit of this novel is set during World War II and the characters had to get creative with cooking (as so many of the ingredients were missing due to rationing). I thought about including a WWII recipe, and while that would be fun in a historical sense, it would not be fun to eat. Instead, I am including one of my favorite desserts that would have been far too decadent for the times (the sugar alone would have done it in!): Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cake