If you’re a fan of Gothic literature, be sure to pick up Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours. It could have been used to teach my college class on the genre.
The Distant Hours is set in a decaying British castle that is home to elderly spinster twin sisters/doppelgangers and their younger sister who has followed in the family medical history of madness after being jilted as a young woman. There is a also a dog/beast that demonstrates human emotional intelligence, a pet cemetery whose inhabitants include more than the family dog, multiple mysterious deaths and/or suicides that involve stairs, fire and castle towers. And, the climax occurs on a stormy night when the heroine becomes trapped at the castle and has to spend the night there – which happens to be Halloween.
Now, before you think this is all adding up to be just too much, there is a story, and it happens to be one that is quite interesting.
Edie Burchill is an editor for a London reporter. She receives the assignment of a lifetime when she is asked to research and write the introduction for the 75th anniversary edition of her favorite childhood story – The True History of the Mud Man. She has a personal interest in its history, as the home of the writer – Raymond Blythe – was where her mother was evacuated as a child during the World War II blitz on London.
Edie’s mother – Meredith – has never said much about her time at Milderhurst, though there is evidence that the time made quite an impression on her, particularly her relationship with the youngest daughter, Juniper. It is Meredith’s teacher from London who becomes Juniper’s sweetheart but who doesn’t show for a dinner engagement at the castle and is never seen again.
The story alternates between current day when Edie is researching the history and the 1930’s and 40’s when Persephone and Seraphina – the twin sisters – are in their prime, coming into their own about what their life will be.
I highly recommend The Distant Hours, and especially for those who love a good Gothic story.
The Distant Hours is Kate Morton’s third novel. It is scheduled to be released today. I am grateful to Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., for the advanced readers edition of this book.
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