The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton will take readers back to a family during the upheaval of World War II in Great Britain. The Raymond Blythe family lives in Milderhurst castle and has done so for generations. Raymond, a writer and survivor of World War I lives there with his three daughters, Percy and Saffy, who are twins and Juniper. The sisters live in the castle their entire lives because their father believes that family and creativity are the most important things in life.

Raymond was a strange man. Mentally damaged in World War I no one thought he would recover until he started writing again. His story about the Mud Man turned his life around and set the stage for his daughters disturbed lives. The mud man was a creature who lived in a moat surrounding a castle. His daughters saw life differently than Raymond did. When they were young the twins were completely consumed by their father - their mother was suffering from postpartum depression. The marriage and the family deteriorated ending with the mother burning to death and her lover having a similar fate.

The daughters are brought up to love the castle as if it were a living thing. Having the family continue to live at Milderhurst becomes all important to Percy. She takes her father's beliefs to heart and insists her sisters do likewise. She carries her mission to extremes that have her interfering in her sisters lives.

The story line is told in 2 parts. Events that happened during World War II when a child from London (Meredith) comes to stay with them during the early days of the war. The second story line involves Meredith's daughter Edith. Edith discovers on old copy of the Mud Man and becomes interested in the author and his castle, Milderhurst. When she realizes that her mother had lived there during the war, she wants even more information. Her chance arrives when she is asked to write the introduction to the anniversary edition of the Mud Man.

The story lines come together with a resounding clash. The sister's past combined with current events prove too much for the Blythe sisters and their lives once again are changed forever. This book is well written. The characters are interesting (especially Percy) and the plot lines move along even as they weave back and forth through time.

The book should be read in long stretches to get the full flavor of the story. Curl up by the fire and give this book a read.

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