The Distant Hours ****** Kate Morton Edie does not have much going on in her life: her love affair has just ended, her job at a tiny publishing house is hardly what you would call a glamorous career and her family defines the very meaning of the word dull. So when a long-lost letter finally finds its way to her Mother and shocks the no-nonsense, practical woman into an almost catatonic state, Edie’s interest is piqued. She decides to do a little investigating and gradually uncovers secrets, lies and betrayals buried deep within the layers of the past, going back several generations and affecting people’s lives to this very day. Who could resist a mystery involving a run-down castle, a famous writer with a knack for attracting tragedy, the recluse existence of his three elderly spinster daughters, an unsolved missing-person’s case and the war experiences of one’s own Mother? Certainly not Edie. As the fate of the Milderhurst Castle and its residents, the Blythe family, absorbs her more with each discovery, will she ultimately be the one to bring closure and peace to the tormented souls within its walls?  Will she be able to silence the ever-resonating echo of the distant hours? Kate Morton’s work captured my imagination and intrigued me right from the very first page. It gave me that delicious feeling of anxiety and anticipation; it also brought about a rather tingling aura of mystery. Its clever construction of a Gothic tale within a Gothic tale (a lot of the plot centers around a rather disturbing classic book written by Mr. Blythe) only serves to enhance that chills-down-the-spine, shivering-with- curiosity excitement. The author quite masterfully plays with the characteristic features of the genre: murky, gloomy castle, thunderstorms, rain, gray skies, drafty attics, foreboding dungeons, hints of the supernatural, sordid secrets, constant connotations to the past. Even though Edie is the protagonist who gives the novel structure and her playing detective makes all the bygone events finally come together, the story jumps back and forth in time and is told from the perspective of different characters. Only Edie communicates with the reader in the first-person voice, but all the others are represented by an all-knowing and all-revealing narrator. “The Distant Hours” not only draws you in with its fascinating plot, it’s also a very beautifully and elegantly written piece of prose, easily conveying the atmosphere of the described places and events, vividly evoking the images of the scenery. However, besides those highly acclaimed literary merits it captures the heart with its undeniable charm: the subtle, warm, self-ironic humor; the poetic, lyrical passages speaking of love; the nuanced depiction of the intricate, delicate ties binding the protagonists together. In this story about missed opportunities and misguided loyalties not a single character remains unsympathetic, somehow Ms. Morton manages to portray them all with compassion and a deep psychological insight into their often complicated and twisted motives. I would definitely recommend this book not only to the Gothic-genre enthusiasts, but to anybody who tends to appreciate a good mystery. This particular enigma actually consists of several secrets that need uncovering and it is very satisfying indeed to see the pieces of the puzzle finally come together. The journey to the resolution never ceases to enthrall the reader and despite numerous red herrings enough foreshadowing hints are given to keep your mind engaged and alive with possibilities. A wonderful treat for those cozy winter evenings, when the wind outside is howling and you’re ready to enter a thrilling  new world behind the door of the here and now.
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The Distant Hours ****** Kate Morton Edie does not have much going on in her life: her love affair has just ended, her job at a tiny publishing house is hardly what you would call a glamorous career and her family defines the very meaning of the word dull. So when a long-lost letter finally finds its way to her Mother and shocks the no-nonsense, practical woman into an almost catatonic state, Edie’s interest is piqued. She decides to do a little investigating and gradually uncovers secrets, lies and betrayals buried deep within the layers of the past, going back several generations and affecting people’s lives to this very day. Who could resist a mystery involving a run-down castle, a famous writer with a knack for attracting tragedy, the recluse existence of his three elderly spinster daughters, an unsolved missing-person’s case and the war experiences of one’s own Mother? Certainly not Edie. As the fate of the Milderhurst Castle and its residents, the Blythe family, absorbs her more with each discovery, will she ultimately be the one to bring closure and peace to the tormented souls within its walls?  Will she be able to silence the ever- resonating echo of the distant hours? Kate Morton’s work captured my imagination and intrigued me right from the very first page. It gave me that delicious feeling of anxiety and anticipation; it also brought about a rather tingling aura of mystery. Its clever construction of a Gothic tale within a Gothic tale (a lot of the plot centers around a rather disturbing classic book written by Mr. Blythe) only serves to enhance that chills-down-the-spine, shivering-with- curiosity excitement. The author quite masterfully plays with the characteristic features of the genre: murky, gloomy castle, thunderstorms, rain, gray skies, drafty attics, foreboding dungeons, hints of the supernatural, sordid secrets, constant connotations to the past. Even though Edie is the protagonist who gives the novel structure and her playing detective makes all the bygone events finally come together, the story jumps back and forth in time and is told from the perspective of different characters. Only Edie communicates with the reader in the first-person voice, but all the others are represented by an all- knowing and all-revealing narrator. “The Distant Hours” not only draws you in with its fascinating plot, it’s also a very beautifully and elegantly written piece of prose, easily conveying the atmosphere of the described places and events, vividly evoking the images of the scenery. However, besides those highly acclaimed literary merits it captures the heart with its undeniable charm: the subtle, warm, self- ironic humor; the poetic, lyrical passages speaking of love; the nuanced depiction of the intricate, delicate ties binding the protagonists together. In this story about missed opportunities and misguided loyalties not a single character remains unsympathetic, somehow Ms. Morton manages to portray them all with compassion and a deep psychological insight into their often complicated and twisted motives. I would definitely recommend this book not only to the Gothic-genre enthusiasts, but to anybody who tends to appreciate a good mystery. This particular enigma actually consists of several secrets that need uncovering and it is very satisfying indeed to see the pieces of the puzzle finally come together. The journey to the resolution never ceases to enthrall the reader and despite numerous red herrings enough foreshadowing hints are given to keep your mind engaged and alive with possibilities. A wonderful treat for those cozy winter evenings, when the wind outside is howling and you’re ready to enter a thrilling  new world behind the door of the here and now.
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