The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours

A Novel

Book - 2010 | 1st Atria Books hardcover ed.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Another unforgettable tale weaving together history and mystery from the bestselling author of The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden.

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Middlhurst Castle, a great but moldering old place, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted fifty years before as a thirteen-year-old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn't been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Millderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in "the distant hours" of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring characters beset by circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Atria Books, 2010.
Edition: 1st Atria Books hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781439152782
Branch Call Number: FIC Morto 9254tc 1
FIC Morto 9254mv 1
FIC Morto 9254ag 1
FIC Morto 9254ul 1
Characteristics: 562 p.


From Library Staff

ehbooklover Mar 05, 2011

A rundown castle, a literary mystery, a love story, and lots of family secrets make for another great read by Kate Morton. Loved it!

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 26, 2019

This book is definitely on the darker side with plenty of Gothic mystery. I loved the beginning and the ending but the story seemed to drone on and on a bit in the middle. As with so many of her stories, the ending holds surprises that, when taken with the rest of the story, make perfect sense. Kate Morton writes in such vivid imagery and weaves marvelous stories that span decades. I believe I would pick up on more of the minute details that point towards the ending if read it a second time. But, at 500+ pages, I probably will not re-read it. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it's not one of my favorites. I would have liked to have read more explanation regarding Juniper's bus ride home to the castle. It would have added clarity to the ending.

Oct 02, 2018

Downtowner's Book Selection
Kate Morton is a wizard with a pen who has been gifted with a literary mind.
'Distant Hours ' is graciously presented and welcomed by the masses.

Jul 05, 2018

Borrowed but returned before read -- July 2018

Jun 13, 2018

This is an epic tale that has a castle as a major character and juxtaposes a 1993 timeline against WW II. Edie Burchill witnesses her mother's distress when opening a long lost letter and so begins her quest to find out more about Middlehurst Castle and the secrets that lie with the Blythe sisters. As with other books by Morton, we see many seemingly unrelated strands come together at the end of the book in unexpected ways and surprising ways. The Epilogue is especially rewarding and reminded me of how much I enjoy Morton's storytelling. I also loved listening to Caroline Lee narrate. She is one of my favorite readers for books from Australian and British authors. Recommended!

Apr 04, 2018

I could not put this book down. So far one of her best ever. Read it!

ArapahoeJillK Nov 27, 2017

My favorite Kate Morton book thus far. Once again, interesting female characters from the present and the past merge to tell the tale of a Gothic mystery set in a crumbling English castle.

Oct 26, 2017

Loved the book. Great read.

Mar 12, 2017

Compelling! !

Oct 17, 2016

This is a great novel and mystery, focusing on mother- daughter and sister- sister relationships. I really enjoyed it, didn't want to stop reading it! I think the part that I liked the best was that the narrator becomes much closer with her mother as she learns the secrets of Milderhurst Castle. The Blythe family seemed a bit unreal to me, although they did make for an interesting plot. I was confused at the very end when Percy's side of the story is told... her perspective is that she has protected her sisters for their whole lives- that she has torn up job offers and letters to prevent her twin from leaving the castle because her twin couldn't handle the outside world, and that her younger sister also needs protecting from the world. This could be true, but since it is the first time this perspective (about Saffy) has been introduced, it leads me to wonder if this is just Percy's way of justifying her life. The backstory of the Mud Man was interesting, and terrifying. I was a bit annoyed at the description of Juniper's decent into madness "the lights went out". There has to be a more precise description of her mental illness than that- people don't just exactly blow their circuits. I know this is a novel, but I feel like the sisters should have tried to get some outside help. My final criticism is that this is the 3rd Kate Morton novel I have read, and I wish that the perpetrator in all her novels were acting under the influence of a mental illness. At least this time it wasn't "shell shock" like in the other two novels I've read. I enjoyed this a lot, but I feel like her novels are a bit formulaic and it will be a little while before I read another.

May 24, 2016

very good book

View All Comments


Add a Summary
Feb 03, 2011

Heroine's mother was evacuated from London to countryside in WWII. Daughter didnt find out about this until a lost letter arrives in 90's and mother is very upset about it. Daughter tours castle where mother stayed for short time. All 3 sisters still living, twins are oldest and younger daughter may have dementia or mental instability. Their father was author of a loved children's book, probably a YA book, as it was rather a horror story. Mud Man was the scary character, which figures into the plot.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MPL

To Top