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The Distant Hours

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  69,481 ratings  ·  7,502 reviews
A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Ju ...more
Hardcover, 562 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Atria (first published November 2010)
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Lis Carey Honestly, I think it's pretty clear, at least to me. Juniper, the most natural writer of the family except Raymond Blythe himself, wrote about her sex…moreHonestly, I think it's pretty clear, at least to me. Juniper, the most natural writer of the family except Raymond Blythe himself, wrote about her sexual fantasies about Thomas Cavill. Remember, they didn't have sex before London, but she did meet him before, at Milderhurst, and he was as near-naked as any early 20th century woman could see a man not her husband.

She had strong sexual feelings, and fantasies about Thomas Cavill. She wrote them down, convincingly enough that Saffy couldn't tell whether it was fantasy or realty (remembering that Saffy had no experience, either.)(less)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  69,481 ratings  ·  7,502 reviews

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Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Did you ever go to a Tupperware party where the hostess spent forever demonstrating all the gadgets in a dramatically effervescent voice? And at the end nobody bought anything? And there weren't even any refreshments being served to make it worth having shown up? And you didn't like any of the other people who came to the party?
This book is that party---all elaborate demonstration, no sale, no refreshment, and no one I care about.
I adored Kate Morton’s The House At Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, giving them both 5 stars, but delayed reading The Distant Hours after hearing so many bad reviews about it from people who, like me, loved those earlier books. I finally decided to take the plunge, hoping to disagree with the bad reviews.

Sadly, I don't. The Distant Hours is packed full of unnecessary detail and description. On and on it goes, page after page of long-winded waffle, page after page of no dialogue, no action an
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 out of 5 stars to Kate Morton's The Distant Hours, a beautifully written and compelling story of sisters, mothers and daughters across two different time periods set in London and rural England.

Why This Book?
I'd read one of her other books, The Forgotten Garden, and fell in love with Kate Morton's style, effortless reads and vivid settings and characters. I had to continue absorbing as much of her books as I could, but given they are usually 500+ pages, and quite intense, I have t
I loved Morton's earlier novel, The Forgotten Garden, and had high expectations for this one as well. If this book wasn't tailored made for my reading tastes, I don't know what would be:
- Ancient castle in the bucholic English countryside
- Past and present plotlines weaving and intersecting
- Homage to books, readers and the written word
- Gothic elements galore (including madness, forbidden love, family secrets, a lost letter, and a creepy children's story)

However, by the end of this massive 560
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-german
Actual rating: 3.5 🌟

My edition of this book has over 700 pages, but it really didn't feel like a long book. The pages just kept flying by, which is due to Kate Morton's excellent writing style. She has a way of pulling you into the story and making everything feel alive and real. You have no option but to be completely invested and enthralled by what's happening. Like with her other books, the setting and overall "feel" of the book were just perfect. The suspense is written in a wonderful way -
Nov 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I abandoned the effort to read The Distant Hours about a third of the way in. I don’t know quite what to make of Kate Morton, whose writing (at least for me) gets increasingly annoying with every book she publishes. At some point she has begun to confuse languor with atmosphere, and the pace of this book is like sitting on the leading edge of an advancing glacier. It could be millennia before it gets where it’s going. Morton is plainly far more interested in the details of setting and landscape ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I welled up when this book ended & not just because I hated to see it end. One could weep over the sad lives of the 3 Blythe sisters, now elderly, & living with secrets that are beautifully & gradually revealed. The story jumps from the 1990's in London to the Milderhurst Castle during W.W.II and the present. When Edie Burchill encounters the 3 elderly sisters she is drawn into a family of secrets, whose "distant hours" are simply a wonder to read. It may be the best I've read since "The Help". ...more
Roger Kean
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is Kate Morton a women's writer? As an Ann Tyler and Maeve Binchy fan, I wouldn't know. I loved Morton's previous two books, and this one is even better. Flying back and forth in time between the evacuation of children from London prior to the blitz of 1941 and the modern day (1992), Book editor Edie Burchill uncovers the truth behind the creation of "The True History of the Mud Man," a spectacularly successful children's story written by the patriarch of Milderhurst Castle in Kent, now in the p ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pleasure-reading
I am a sucker for ancient, decaying castles with occupants who are eccentric and obviously have secrets to hide. When Morton sets the stage and begins to play out the lives of the Blythe sisters, children of a famous and ultimately bizarre writer, during the time of WWII, she has me hooked. At the same time, she introduces the modern-day story of Edie Burchill, the daughter of a WWII child evacuee who was sent to the castle to wait out the war. It is her mother's story that Edie is determined to ...more
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have recently finished reading this book and I just loved it! I had it finished in a week. A few times a got a little frustrated wanting to know the secrets but the wait was well worth it. There are a lot of secrets in this book.

I was worried it wasn't going to stack up to her two previous books due to some 'not so good' reviews I've read and heard. This book is a lot darker than her other two, but similar in the switching back and forth from the present to the past. Again, I love the way she
Christy B
I read the last hundred pages of The Distant Hours in the middle of a pretty intense storm. This just brought me even deeper into the story, where I felt as though I was a part of it. People who have finished The Distant Hours will know what I'm talking about.

I'm such a huge Kate Morton fan. I raved over her two previous books: The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, so when I heard about The Distant Hours a year ago, I could not wait for it. I had such high expectations, and I figured,
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If I only read one book this fall, I decided months ago, it would have to be The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. Kate Morton’s debut novel, The House of Riverton, held me so spellbound that as soon as I finished it, I read it again. Despite the fact that The House of Riverton left me emotionally drained, I eagerly pre-ordered her next novel, The Forgotten Garden, and devoured it in one sitting, heedless of the late hour and lack of sleep, when it finally came. I'm glad to report that her third eff ...more
Katrina Passick Lumsden
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: allthefeels, amazing
I can't say enough about this book. It's not a happy one, so don't go into it thinking you're going to get a sweet happily ever after. No, that's not really Kate Morton's style. But beautifully lyrical prose and an almost unnerving talent for atmosphere makes this, on the surface a beautiful read.

What's not so obvious is that Morton's talent for crafting intricately layered, interesting characters is superb. She presents you with a certain set of traits for each character that cause you to draw
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it

First I must state unequivocally— I adore Morton’s style and prose. She transports me to other places and times effortlessly and paints beautiful images along the way.

So it pains me to share my disappointment with this book— I’ll just cut to the chase. It was too damn long. It needed an editor who could stand firm against the lush language and cut away the unnecessary scenes and descriptions.

Otherwise, it was a wonderful read for anyone who has fallen in love with a book as a child. Like th
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Update // I'm pretty sure I need to reread this book for a fair review as I was sick and cranky while reading it and I think it affected my judgment. One day I will reassess //

This pains me to say - I did not love this book. While I adore Kate Morton and her novels read like one epic poem, this one was just much too slow for me.

The writing is brilliant, she can create an atmosphere with prose like no one else, and while even the plot was very intriguing, I felt as if that couldn't even save me
Bark  |  Laurie  |  LOHF
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
My friend passed this across the table and promised a trio of spinsters, a creaky castle and long hidden family secrets. I probably should not have taken the book, seeing as it’s roughly a million pages long and I read at a slugs pace, but I was sold anyway because I’m nosey and books with dark secrets cannot be turned away.

This book kept luring me in with a whole lot of this.

 photo mystory_zps1fdjlfts.gif

But then it delivered nothing but a whole lot of empty promises until about page 4 million and 80. Then the twists
Alayne Emmett
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a re read for me, I first read this wonderful book ages ago when it first came out and I loved it then. I enjoyed it again a second time. It’s a very long book but the pages just flew by. This book is a dual time line and at times it was creepy and mysterious.
I love all of Kate Morton’s books but, this one is a particular favourite.
My love and thanks to my wonderful daughter for finding it for me in her local charity shop.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was very disappointed with this. I enjoyed her two previous books, without thinking they were masterpieces -- just long, lazy holiday reads. But this one began to seem awfully long, with too little substance and far too much padding. From the start, I felt the present-day first person narrative and the parts told in the third person and set in 1941 didn't sit well together. I did enjoy the 1941 parts at first; Middleton is still superb at evoking an atmosphere in the past with lots of period d ...more
Kate Morton has definitely made herself on to my favourite authors list, and on finishing "The Distant Hours" that has sort of finalised it. This is my third Morton novel, and although I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two, it was still a decent read.

Morton's writing style is magical. She can transport you to the places in her stories, without difficulty, and the way in which she paints her landscapes is masterful. I LOVE that there is a large castle involved in this story, and that everyth
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to TL by: random chance
Shelves: favorites

Ancient walls that sing the Distant Hours.

The story meanders a bit, taking its time letting you into the world of the Sisters Blythe and their father Raymond, Edie and her mum. It splits between 1941 and 1992, introducing everyone as it pleases.

It all starts when Edie's mother Meredith, gets a long lost letter in the mail from someone she didn't expect to hear from. We find out who and what later on, but this piece of mail starts Edie down the trail of her mom from long ago, during World War Tw
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Any book over 500 pages makes me narrow my eyes suspiciously. There is so much room for extraneous things in a book that size. I was pleasantly surprised to find nothing extraneous whatsoever in The Distant Hours. It’s so long because Morton doesn’t just focus on a few main mysteries. Instead, she weaves in all manner of smaller unknowns that click into place one by one, usually just when the reader has nearly forgotten about them completely. The result is an extremely complex and masterfully wo ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was the first Kate Morton book I had ever read and I heard rave reviews over the Forgotten Garden. It started off great; I found her prose fresh and her descriptions unique. Kate Morton is clearly a talented author but I think she failed with this book. She could have really benefited from tight editing.

I didn't understand her structure in the least. Switching from a first person narrative to a third person narrative, using different view points was distracting. That was the first snag I h
Diane S ☔
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
An old castle, reclusive writer, three elderly sister and many many secrets ...what's not to like ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: susans-book
I am going with 2.5 to 3 stars. That took me a really long time to finish. It took a long time to fully engage me, over the half way point. I didn't mind the story, just too long. A bit chick-lit as well, which is fine. I do hve a couple more books by this author on my shelves so will be reading more at some point. Here's hoping they move a bit faster :)) ...more
A. R.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
What a disappointment!!!! I loved 'The Forgotten Garden'. It's one of my favorite books to recommend so naturally I was excited to read another work by Kate Morton. I found the entire story to long, to drawn out and lacking any real emotion. It was an effort to finish. With the exception of one or two chapters about the relationship between Thomas Cavill and Juniper Blythe it felt like a narration you would find in the newspaper.

I had the ending figured out three hundred pages into the book and
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Morton is a gifted storyteller. She has a gift for weaving multiple storylines together; add in mystery and some great character arcs and you have the premise for this novel.

Edie Burchill stumbles across Milderhurst castle and remembers that she has been there before... The story shifts back to the past and into present day. Edie's mother was evacuated to Milderhurst around WWII and has kept this a secret from her daughter. Milderhurst is the home of world renowned author Raymond Blythe, a
Rea Nicole ✰
This was my first read by Kate Morton...and wow...absolutely stunning. I was completely lost in this novel and spent a good solid two days doing nothing but reading. I was constantly guessing at the many secrets and proved pleasantly right sometimes and shocked at others. The mixture of past and present, unfolding of long kept secrets, and deep insights from many points of view made this book perfection to me.
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
If not for the slow start I would have given this 5 stars.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
How can you not love a book that includes the following: "After all, it's the librarian's sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader."?

While the blurb calls this "gothic literature", it's more goth lit lite - the scary isn't there to the degree that I'd expect from that genre. Think more Rebecca than "Fall of the House of Usher." The switching between 1941 and 1992 helps, I think, keep the tone light. Of course there are some Dark Family Secrets that get revealed, and a Li
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars
This is another wonderful Kate Morton story. It develops a little slower than her other books. She is a favorite author of mine, but this book was just too long and drawn out.
I loved reading about the mystery of the Milderhurst Castle and the truth of what happened in the distant hours.
This book has all the elements of a gothic read filled with family secrets.
It is a perfect read on a stormy night.
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KATE MORTON grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.


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“I don’t have many friends, not the living, breathing sort at any rate. And I don’t mean that in a sad and lonely way; I’m just not the type of person who accumulates friends or enjoys crowds. I’m good with words, but not spoken kind; I’ve often thought what a marvelous thing it would be if I could only conduct relationships on paper. And I suppose, in a sense, that’s what I do, for I’ve hundreds of the other sort, the friends contained within bindings, pages after glorious pages of ink, stories that unfold the same way every time but never lose their joy, that take me by the hand and lead me through doorways into worlds of great terror and rapturous delight. Exciting, worthy, reliable companions - full of wise counsel, some of them - but sadly ill-equipped to offer the use of a spare bedroom for a month or two.” 164 likes
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