The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Enthralling and haunting, Kate Morton’s latest novel tells a gothic story of betrayal, dark secrets, madness and love. Meredith and her daughter Edie have never been close, but when a letter arrives fifty years after it’s been posted and Meredith refuses to reveal its contents, Edie is determined to find out if her mother’s emotional distance could be related to her secret past. Thus, Edie sets off to unravel Meredith’s past, but she is about to learn more than she expected. Evacuated from London during the Blitz, Edie’s mother was chosen by Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with her literary family. The Blythes were eccentric people, whose lives revolved around the decaying castle and the dreadful tales that enveloped it and the more Edie investigates, the more skeletons come out of the closet. And what eventually comes to the surface is a tragic and disturbing truth that altered lives and destroyed hopes.

The Distant Hours will satisfy readers as they will stray into a labyrinth of deceit, family intrigue and mystery. Kate Morton has managed to capture a gloomy atmosphere throughout the novel by using various gothic elements, creating a dark and compelling tale full of suspense, romance and fascinating characters that will linger with you for a long time.

Needless to say, I very much enjoyed Kate Morton’s third novel and I hope that her next books will be just as wonderful, as I am savoring her writing style, her memorable characters and her captivating plots to the fullest.

The Distant Hours was very entertaining and informative and I found its themes very interesting. I liked to learn about the Blitz and its consequences for the protagonists and I loved to read about the Blythes and their fascination with writing and storytelling. But what I liked most was to learn about Milderhurst Castle, as I found its vivid descriptions fascinating and absorbing; the eerie tales revolving around the Blythe family were also very engaging.

Also, as I was reading this novel, I was reminded of another book that I’ve read in the past, namely, I Capture the Castle. There are certain similarities between these two books – of course there’s the setting and then both novels centre on a literary family. But The Distant Hours has more to offer; there are more stories to tell (modern and old) and I must admit that I liked it more than Dodie Smith’s novel. Kate Morton’s story has more twists and turns and it allows the reader a glimpse into a forgotten world where nothing is as it seems and after you’ve unveiled Milderhurst’s hidden secrets, you will sympathize with the characters and will be able to understand them better.

All in all, The Distant Hours was the perfect read for me and I would give it five stars out of five, as I loved everything about it. I can’t say anything negative about this novel except that I was sad that I finished it so soon. I think I can safely add Kate Morton to the list of my favorite authors!

What about you? Have you read any of Kate Morton’s novels? If so, did you like them as much as I did?

Note: I would like to thank Panmacmillan for sending me this great novel!

Andreea

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On Folly Beach by Karen White

When Emmy Hamilton loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan, her mother is determined to persuade Emmy to move to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and to buy the local bookstore. Emmy’s mother hopes that her daughter will be able to leave the past behind her and find some distraction in Folly Beach.

Emmy, however, doesn’t really want to leave at first, since she still grieves over her husband’s death and she doesn’t feel ready for a change. She is living in the past and is tormented by memories and shattered dreams. But when the young woman finds love letters and an image of a bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s bookstore, she is eager to find out more about the mysterious writers. Emmy is curious about the hidden messages and thus, she decides to move to Folly Beach and to buy the store. There, she meets Lulu, the late owner’s sister who is very difficult and grumpy. Lulu sells her bottle trees from the store’s backyard and Emmy has to deal with her quite often. Although she tries to ignore the old woman, Emmy can’t help but feel sorry for Lulu, as she senses that the old woman must have had a difficult and tragic past. Furthermore, Emmy feels that Lulu must somehow be connected to the mysterious love letters, but she doesn’t really know how and plans to find out. As the young woman digs deeper into Folly Beach’s past, she uncovers many family secrets, a mysterious disappearance during WWII and a touching love story that has affected Lulu’s family in many ways.

While Emmy learns about all these secrets, she finally begins to understand Lulu. Moreover, she has found a way to cope with her grief and slowly, Emmy realizes that she must leave the past behind and concentrate on the present. With the help of her new friends in Folly Beach, Emmy has learned that she must start living again because life is too short and one never knows when it might come to an end!

Alternating between WWII and the present, On Folly Beach tells the story of Emmy and Lulu, two women who couldn’t be more different and who don’t seem to have anything in common.   However, in the end, they discover that they were brought together by circumstances beyond their control and that they can learn a lot from each other, especially when it comes to second chances and broken hearts.

When I asked for some reading recommendations a few weeks ago, some of you mentioned this book and I am so glad that you did, because it was perfect for me! Thank you so much for telling me about it. You have no idea how much I loved this novel! For the last two days, I have been taking On Folly Beach everywhere with me and I read it whenever I had the chance to do so. I was devouring this book as I devour chocolate and I was craving more and more with every page I read. I couldn’t put it down, since I was eager to find out how it would end, but at the same time, I was sad because I knew that I would have to part with all the characters that have become so dear to me.

On Folly Beach had all the right ingredients for me – romance, suspense, literary references and engaging characters. Furthermore, the author’s writing was just beautiful and full of emotions. I loved her wonderful descriptions of Folly Beach and the unforgettable atmosphere that Karen White has created in this novel. But what I loved most about this book was the fact that it revolved around a bookstore; I loved reading about Folly Beach’s book shop and I really enjoyed reading about the secret coded messages in books. It was really intriguing to find out about these love letters and to discover how the love story would end. What I also loved was the fact that there were two stories intertwined in this book; while I liked Emmy’s story, I found Lulu’s tale more fascinating and it was her tragic and eventful past that moved me and left me feeling sad. That’s why this book was so great – it made me think about these tales after I finished reading it and it lingered in my mind for a long time. And that says a lot about this novel!

I hope you will get the chance to read this amazing book in the future and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! I highly recommend it to everyone out there who likes to read books that deal with the past and to those who are interested in WWII.

I would like to thank Penguin Group for sending me this wonderful novel!

Other reviews:

Melody’s Reading Corner

You’ve Gotta Read This

Bermudaonion’s Blog

Peeking Between the Pages

Andreea