Edie’s favourite book is The Mud Man by Raymond Blythe and she devoured it as a child, but as adult she did not think she would revisit it, and certainly not in the way it actually affected her life and her mothers. When a letter turns up after fifty years, Edie finds out that her mother was evacuated to Milderhurst Castle during the Second World War and stayed with the Blythe family. The father, the author Raymond hardly seen by Edie’s mother during his stay and his three daughters Percy, Saffy and Juniper. But there is something about these three sisters which when Edie suddenly gets the chance to meet, years later the whole story starts to tumble out and it is not what it seems to be. Secrets eating everyone up from outsiders of the castle to the sisters themselves, Edie becomes part of their story just like her mother did.
This is Kate Morton’s third novel, and in my opinion not as good as the previous two. She seems to have lost something with this book and I am not sure what it has lost. I did not connect with any of the characters in particular, I found Edie rather ineffectual and weak not standing up to anything past or present, dealing with a split from her boyfriend was testament of this. Her mother was merely a vehicle to tell the story and that was a shame, because I think she was the stronger of the two. The three Blythe sisters were characterised well and it was clear where their strengths and weaknesses were. The rest were and are quite forgettable.
Structurally I felt the novel worked, it flowed quite easily between the time periods, late nineties and the Second World War but it was ultimately too long, at least 200 pages too long. Too much was made of something and nothing through prose. It just seemed to take a long time to get going then when it did it came to a halt and we were back to a meandering too slow pace. There was not enough about the Second World War for me, the research that she might have done and mentioned at the back of the novel, not enough of this content within the book. What was there was perhaps boring and been done before.
A gothic dark novel which was neither and it was disappointing when I was expecting so much from this novel and author. I would still be interested to see what else comes from the pen of this author but if you are new to her, then do not start with this book.
I was disappointed that I did not want to devour this book as soon as possible once I started reading it. Morton’s previous novels were like that. I felt that I was being harsh, then I realised that whilst I was reading this book I had started another and was enjoying it more and downloaded a couple of samples to my kindle and yes I was enjoying them more. I was telling myself something.
I normally love books which feature a big house/castle in the story as they become characters themselves. This book was not one of them.
Have you read any books which disappointed you? Did The Distant Hours live up to Kate Morton’s previous novels?