Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alice's Review: The Distant Hours

Summary: It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love. ~

Review:  It’s no secret that I have been reading The Distant Hours for a month.   The slowness was definitely contributed to the novel been nearly 600 pages, or a brick as I liked to refer to it.  It was formidable, intimidating.  I would read and not feel like I was putting a dent in it.  It was discouraging.  I think I would have given up on it weeks ago had it not been for the List Swap Challenge Julie and I are participating in.  I’m glad I didn’t give up on it because this has been one of the best reads of the year for me.

This novel incorporates many of my favorite reading loves.  I love novels about sisters, I love romance, I love heartbreak, I love novels set in the 40s.  I love reading about women and how they interact with each other.  I love the secrets, the vulnerability in revealing truths.  The Distant Hours is all those things and more.

Ms. Morton’s writing style is poetry.  The mere size of the novel is testament that she did not leave any stones unturned.  This novel was well researched, thought-out.   She bounced back and forth between 1941 and 1992 with ease.  I was never confused or confounded. 

She writes such strong, beautiful women.  Each of the sisters, as well as Edie, Meredith, Lucy, and Rita, were multidimensional characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each one.  One of the stunning truths of this novel is that although each woman had strength of her own, they were more or less control by one man and his secrets, Raymond Blythe.  He was the catalyst in The Distant Hours.

Shroud in mystery, Ms. Morton’s gift is revealing these in an unexpected way.  Just like Edie, I would begin to think one thing, convinced I had it figured out and then Wham! – Here comes the truth and it would leave my head spinning and feeling awed, impressed how easily I was fooled and how the truth was there all along.

This novel was such a pleasure to read.  It reminds me of the kind of novel you curl up to on a cold, rainy or snowy night.  It’s comfortable, it makes you think, it keeps you guessing.  Maybe it’s the castle setting, maybe it’s the relationship between the women.  Maybe it’s the women individually.  There is just something so wonderful about this novel that each minute spend reading it is like getting to know a new friend.

And just how it was highly recommended to me, I highly recommend The Distant Hours to you.

Final Take: 5/5



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