November 01, 2010

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton


Kate Morton has her winning formula and her latest book, The Distant Hours, shows she's sticking to it - and why wouldn't she? It's creating one bestseller after the other. As in her two previous books, The Shifting Fog and The Forgotten Garden Morton weaves together story lines from the present and past, has a heroine in each time period - each more lovelorn than the other, sets the majority of the book in a beautiful and historical part of the English countryside and throws in a long lost secret (usually involving the writing of a letter or a book) to be uncovered.

Now that I think about it - it definitely does sound like a winning formula - at least it was for me in relation to the first two books, unfortunately for The Distant Hours the formula has now become a little boring and predictable.

The heroines in The Distant Hours are varied and numerous, the two main ones being Edith (Edie)Burchill a young woman working for the publishing business in London in the present day and Juniper Blythe, a talented and ethereal woman who goes to London at the outset of World War 2 and falls in love. These two characters are brought together by Edie's mother, Meredith, who at the start of the war is sent to the countryside as part of the evacuation of children from London to stay with Juniper's family in their family home, Milderhurst Castle. Juniper's father is the world famous children's author, Raymond Blythe and his impact on Juniper and her two older half-sisters, Persephone and Seraphina is felt by Meredith and later relayed to Edie who stumbles upon the castle in the present day and thereby bringing the connection full circle.

The Distant Hours was a compelling and easy read - it is a large book at 499 pages but I found myself half way through it in almost no time at all - the problem being that I never felt as though anything of any significance was happening. I felt I had worked out the formula, and therefore the conclusion, very early on in the piece and the characters themselves were too stereotypical and predictable to interest me.

Definitely a great holiday read for when you just want to tune out and not have to work too hard with your reading but if you are after substance and originality it might be best to look elsewhere.

18 comments:

Dot said...

I love Kate Morton's books, think I might ask for this from Santa!

book caterpillar said...

It's such a shame you weren't keen on The Distant Hours, as I really liked her other two books.

Karen said...

Hi Dot - it is a gorgeous looking book and would be a great Christmas read I think.

Hi book caterpillar - I really enjoyed her first two books as well - I wouldn't exactly say I didn't like this one - it just wasn't earth shattering for me.

Marg said...

I am very much looking forward to this one! Hadn't seen that cover before though.

samstillreading said...

This is one of my Christmas presents- sounds like a perfect Boxing Day read (too many relatives means no time to read on Christmas Day for me)!

JoAnn said...

I get nervous when I see the word 'formula' in a review! The Forgotten Garden was great, but I think I'll read her first book next...

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh what a shame that it wasn't as enthralling as her other ones! The only novel that I've read of hers is The House at Riverton, which I just loved. I need to read the next one, but will bear your review in mind. Thanks for always posting honest reviews!

cousinsread said...

I was on the fence about putting this on hold at the library. You've convinced me to save it for another time!

Karen said...

Hi Marg - It is a gorgeous looking books - would make a lovely present.

Hi sam - I'm sure you will have a wonderful Boxing Day with this one!

Hi JoAnn - I think her first book is far and away her best.

Hi Coffee - thanks for your feedback! I really did want to love this one - it has so much about it that I normally really enjoy but I just didn't think it was up to her earlier standards.

Hi cousinsread - Glad I could help!

The Book Whisperer said...

I'm reading this book right now and I'm enjoying it but I haven't read the other two yet. I'm only about a 5th of the way in so I'll pop back and let you know what I thought when I have finshed.

Karen said...

Hi The Book Whisperer - really looking forward to hearing what you think of this one - especially as you haven't read her previous ones.

lovely treez said...

I read and reviewed this recently and like you I felt something was lacking (a bit of editing wouldn't have gone amiss!). I did enjoy it but it was a bit of a lazy read for me and I did prefer her earlier novels. Maybe it's time to change the formula!

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