I discovered Kate Morton sometime in the fall of 2012 or was it spring of 2013? Either way I was not prepared for how much I would like her as an author. Are we ever aware the moment we pick up a book that we would become changed the moment we read through said book?
Kate Morton has a very easy writing style that has you question her character’s and their motives from the very beginning. For me, I wasn’t at all prepared for the heaviness of the text with her style of pacing her stories and because of that I took a rather long time reading through the first book I ever read by her, The Forgotten Garden. But even though I was expecting the burdens the book’s secrets would hold over me, once I finished and the secrets were mine it allowed me to see the beauty of what I had finished reading.
I did not gain a copy of The Distant Hours, the second book I would ever own by Morton, until sometime in 2014. Morton is one those few authors that once I have read and loved one of their works I buy the rest on principle alone. As soon as I saw Morton’s name associated with The Distant Hours I bought it up immediately without knowing anything of the story’s context. To be honest I did not know anything of Kate Morton or her other books besides that one that I had read. I was delighted to find that The Distant Hours had the same progression style as The Forgotten Garden. The very first pages of The Distant Hours had me a little unsure of what I should be expecting for the rest of my journey through the story and I have to admit that it took me perhaps far longer than it should have to make the connection of Edith’s first mentions of the Mud Man to the very first pages of the book . I feel that if the excerpt in the beginning was to give us the imagery we needed to understand the further mentions and parallels of the sisters Blythe ramblings then the expert could have appeared in the middle rather than at the beginning before the story began.
But once the initial excerpt was read and I shook off the awkwardness of not having understood what I just read and finally started on the first pages I had the sense of coming home. Within the first true pages of The Distant Hours I fell deep into the story. Within the early beginning my mind formed and held three questions: What happened to Juniper Blythe? Who killed Thomas Cavill? and… Did Meredith have something to do with his disappearance?
Morton is one for imagery and The Distant Hours hold its fair share of imagery, but with the story containing a darker undertone I felt that the imagery was needed and beautifully used to paint the the secrets of the past. However, even thought the beginnings caught my attention early and those three questions kept me reading until the end it was the ending, the last 200 pages or so that seemed to drag on forever, sometimes closing minor questions while opening others while never really dropping you into the end fast enough.
Meredith’s character seemed only necessary because sh was what connected Edith to the Milderhurst Castle and the discovery of how Thomas Cavil died, but was it really her discovery if the secret was told to her from the source?
What frustrates me most is that in a way, the way the Blythe father raised his children and kept a hold of them even after they became adults can only form one certainty in my mind. Even if Morton never meant for her readers to think of the Blythe father this way I can’t help but feel that the way he raised his daughters was a form of abuse of itself. I can’t help but to see the chain reaction of how he raised them to how every aspect of their lives turned out.
All of the sisters were touched with madness though, not just Juniper. I keep thinking about the way Percy and Saffy protected Juniper, kept so many of the girl’s own truths from her it made me wonder how Juniper would have turned out if they hand’t of held on so close. Maybe Juniper wouldn’t have fallen into madness because I believe it wasn’t the fact that Juniper or even Percy killed Thomas and him never showing up is what drove Juniper into madness as Edie believes, but it was the fact that if any part of that night hadn’t been kept from Juniper at all, if her sisters had just talked to her explained everything they could, if Percy had just told Juniper the truth then then she wouldn’t have had to suffer so.
If Percy had told Saffy and Juniper the truth then all of their lives would have been different or at least been more bearable in the end. Saffy suffered those nightmares all her life, how come it was in that moment with Thomas at the window that she was unable to realize that she was no longer sleeping?
Percy was the worst of them all though. She held her own secrets as well as those of her sisters and in the end, when they were finally told to Edith she killed herself and her sisters is that fire, burning them all and the house that held so many echos of their past. Saffy hand’t believed Percy capable of murder, but what Percy had been capable of was far worse then murdering your sister’s fiance so they could all stay together and keep their home. To me Percy was the real tragedy of this story. She was never able to let go of her codependent need of her twin and the authoritative hold she had on both Saffy and Juniper and for that she doomed them all.
By and by the mystery of Milderhurst Castle was written brilliantly and did it’s job by keeping me wanting to know all the answers until the very end. The Distant Hours and the story it rendered of the sisters Blythe will be one I will contemplate for weeks to come and I highly encourage all to read this book or recommend ti to those who don’t mind the intrigue and the mystery being unfolded int both past and present.
Note: I hope you enjoyed my first book review… and yes it did take on a more of my ramblings thoughts than an actual structure, but I will get better at writing these. If you are curious about the books I enjoy check out my GoodReads profile page. My next review will be over Jane Austen’s Emma… just as soon as I can get it started and finished. Happy Reading.