Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a 13-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family.
Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
©2010 Kate Morton (P)2010 Kate Morton
What can I say? I have read all of Kate Morton that you have to offer and now feel a need for more. She is a brilliant story teller and the book, as usual, is narrated magnificintly.
This book is super duper long ...... which for me, is a huge plus with an audio book. Once you get going you never want this book to end! This is a lovely book that takes you back in time and is wonderfully written and red. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have now read all of Kate Morton's books and I'm hungry for more!
The concept of the story was what initially enticed me to chose The Distant Hours. I love anything to do with books, castles, and dark family secrets. I have read Morton's The Forgotten Garden and really enjoyed it so I thought I would give another one a go and this book has such great reviews, how could I go wrong! However, this audio book fell a little flat for me. Like I said, conceptually this is a great story. It is entertaining and it kept me guessing the whole way through. What I didn't enjoy though was that Morton drags some parts of the story on for ages! I really wish she had cut down the parts about Milderhurst Castle during the war and maybe spent more time focusing on either Eddie's life, or the relationship between Raymond Blythe and his daughter Juniper. There is way too much unnecessary information pumped into the middle of the book and I had a hard time keeping interested in the story. The other thing that bothers me about The Distant Hours is the random sub-plots that do nothing to add to the essential story and feel like empty fillings instead of essential plot elements. One example being the hinted-at lesbian relationship between Percy and Lucy. It just seemed so random to me, as if Morton was just trying to throw in obscure elements for the sake of another plot twist. The book already has enough interesting plot twist to not need trivial ones.
On the good side of things, I thought that the characters were all fairly well developed (except for Seraphina). I like it when an author can actually make me shout out loud and shake my fist at characters out of anger when they do something irritating (such as when Percy stops Seraphina from pursuing her dreams of leaving the castle).
Overall a good concept and a decent enough performance, but very boring at times and some of the plot twists seem a bit forced. If someone is interested in getting into Kate Morton's books, I think I would recommend The Forgotten Garden first over The Distant Hours.
a very engaging story, had me hooked from the start, thought I had figured it out, but was delightfully surprised by the end.
Meredith - fragile, full of wonder.
same as above
Juniper - hard to say why.
listened twice, wanted to catch things that I missed 1st time.
this book is long. It is an experience meant to be enjoyed and savored all the way along. If you like excitement and fast-paced action, this is not the book for you.
Kate Morton's strength is her ability to transport readers to another place and time and envelop them in the story. Her descriptions are vivid and detailed, her characters complex.
As in her previous novels the Hidden Garden and The Shifting Fog, the suspense builds slowly. It took me some time to 'get into' the story, but once I did, i ended up racing to find time to listen to the last few hours, when the plot threads start to come together and I tried to figure them out. If you think you have solved the mystery before the end, don't be too sure, things are not what they seem. Morton deliberately leads the reader down several false paths before revealing the truth.
Since this is the third of Morton's novels read by Caroline Lee, i simply cannot imagine another reader. She personifies the style of Morton's novels, and does the characters' accents so well.
I can't wait to read the Secret Keeper.
It is the first I listened, but a great way to beginning. You will not be disappointed.
The voices that came to life.
Persy Blyde, she gave you the wrong impression, but in the end she was a caring person.
Abridged version of parts 1 and 2 in order to reach part 3 sooner
Get to the "meat" of the story sooner
This was my third Kate Morton book. I really enjoyed the first two and had high expectations of this one. It was just "ok" and I found myself bored.
I had just finished The Forgotten Garden, also by Kate Morton. I was so in love with that story that I didn't want it to end. So I bought The Distant Hours and in all honesty it was a bit disappointing.
It is a beautiful story but soooo loooooong. It takes forever for the first 2 parts to finish and especially when you listen to a story that can get boring. I usually start skimming over a few pages if that happens when I read a hard copy but in this case I was trapped.
The story is beautiful though, very nice narration (however if an Australian accent that pronounces schedule as shedule annoys you when the setting is in a castle in Britain then you are warned right now). It didn't bother me that much.
Once I struggled through part 1 and 2 it got better.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I read both The House at Riverton and The Secret Garden. 1/2 of The House of Riverton would have been a good book. I enjoyed the Secret Garden, although I fast forwarded through the fairy tale. It didn't seem relevant to the plot, was terribly repetitive and just slowed it down. Just because a character is a writer, that doesn't mean the author has to prove it by including the fictional writer's work in the author's novel. But other than the fairy tale, and the slow narration, The Forgotten Garden was a very enjoyable book - better than her first outing.
So I was optimistic about The Distant Hours. Unfortunately my optimism was not warranted. First it started with another contrived fairy tale which was read so slowly and so ponderously it reminded me of the Giant character in the old cartoon version of Jack and the Beanstalk. I kept waiting to hear the actor whose voice had been slowed way down to say Fe...Fi...Fo...Fum. I am certain they must be slowing down this narrators voice in the studio. It just doesn't sound natural. And the fairy tale story itself about mud people was just dull. If I had read it as a child I would have thrown the book away.
This fairy tale was so grating and it seemed apparent it would be repeated ad nauseam throughout the book that I gave up about 3 hours in. I was just starting to learn about the elderly sisters and they seemed like interesting characters. But by then, the mud story and the narrator had given me a splitting headache.
I hate to give up on a book and seldom do. This one though just wasn't readable to me. What is strange is I rarely give a bad narrator a second chance. There are all sorts of books on Audible I would like to listen to but never will because of the narrator. Caroline Lee has annoyed me for three books now. So much so, I couldn't finish the last. But I like her voice. If she was reading something lively and spoke at a natural pace I think I would really like her.
"Good story, shame about narrator"
Story was gripping and well written but the Australian accent of the narrator, for characters mainly from London, was very off putting. I would of expected a narrator to use accents relevant for the story. I found it very frustrating so much so, although I have read other Kate Morton books and enjoyed them, I will not be listening to any others with this particular narrator.
"another great book"
This book had me guessing and in the end, unusually, I was wrong. However it isn't a whodunnit, it isn't a mystery novel, it isn't love story - it's all three. A beautifully written story that spans more than 5 decades it brings the characters to life so completely that you feel you could meet them in the street and know them at once.It broke my heart although in the end it was a happy ending. A masterpiece. My only fault, and a minor one, was the narrators difficulty in capturing the cockney accent, it came out a bit too Aussie. But that was a small price to pay for an otherwise faultless rendering.
"Love Kate Morton"
This is my third read from Kate Morton and I have the fourth book purchased from Audible in readiness for when I want a really good read.
The story set up is the same in all the books in the sense that you are presented with a story with large bits missing and gradually the truth is revealed throughout the book and sometimes as in this one the impression you get of the characters and their actions is sometimes shown to be very misjudged once the full facts are laid before you.
This book was really good and I enjoyed the way the story developed. I would say that the best of the books by far and away was book 2 The Forgotten Garden I will always look for more books by Kate Morton and think her fab.
"A riveting listen"
This is a riveting listen. The book is haunting and evocative, with a meticulously plotted narrative which keeps you entranced right to the end. Although the Australian twang of the narrator seems a little incongruous at first, it is beautifully read, capturing the emotional range of the characters very well. I've been listening to this on my way to work and now it's ended I feel like my journey is much longer. Can't recommend it highly enough.
Excellent book. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the unexpected twists. I listened to this as I drove around the area it was set and almost felt like I would stumble upon the village and castle.
"This book was so good can't wait to start another"
i really enjoyed this book its only the third kate morton i have read and all of her books are spellbinding loved every min just sorry its over
"Three Sisters and the rest"
This is a story of three sisters and their complicated relationship with each other, their parents, particularly their overbearing father and the people who move in and out of their lives as told by close observer's who happen to be mother and daughter.
If it sounds hard to follow, that's because it is.
The characters are well defined by both the author and the narrator of the story, so that is not the problem but it is hard, towards the end of this really long book, to retain any sympathy for any of them. I kept wanting to scream "Get on with it"! But then I'm not noted for my patience.
The other difficulty which is more specific to Audible books, is that the action flits backwards and forwards between WW2 (and sometimes before) and the present day. This can be confusing. Why it is most confusing in Audible books is that you have no visual reference point. In a book, you can refer to the beginning of the chapter or section for ease, in an Audible, that reference is not easily found.
The other important relationship is that between the narrator of the story (Edie) and her own mother (Meredith) who spent time with the sisters as an evacuee during WW2. It is hard to understand why that device was brought into play, it added little to the story, but much to the confusion.
The whole book is riddled with complexities and character flaws and mental ill health to the point where it was really difficult to find any joy and I just longed for the final paragraph and someone to please put me out of my misery. Which perhaps is a little harsh.
Caroline Lee did sterling work narrating this epic and she has a beautiful voice but I can't help but think that someone with an Australian accent was wrongly cast playing the parts of English women during this era.
I sometimes wonder if it's me that can't cope with complexity and after all, one woman's meat is another woman's poison, and trust me, there is an overindulgence of poison, hatred and bitterness in this novel.
This is the best by Kate Morton story by far. I love the past and present blend. This book is set in places I know which as made it even more real.
"Absorbing story marred by the narrator's accent."
I was gripped from the start. This is an extremely well-crafted story although I was always conscious of it being a story and didn't care quite enough for the characters as if they were real.
This felt like a conscious attempt at channelling the spirit and atmosphere of Charlotte Bronte/Jane Eyre into modern times. (Gothic horror/burning castles/mad people in attics etc). Although the complications of this plot transcended all.
Caroline Lee is a superb, expressive Australian actor. I've loved her in other (Australian) works but for this book she was so wrong wrong wrong! As the author is Australian it appears that they produced this audiobook for that market only. This novel takes place entirely in the south-east of England (London and Kent). This narrator can't do a decent English accent to save her life. However wonderful she is, her Australian accent constantly detracts and distracts.
No, it's way too long and drawn out for that. Best to enjoy in smaller portions.
"Beautiful in many ways"
I loved the book Distant Hours. The narration by Caroline Lee was a joy to listen to and the story line kept my attention from beginning till end. The best book of three by Kate Mortoni have read so far!
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