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.