It started with a letter. A letter that had been lost a long time, waiting out half a century, in a forgotten postal bag in the dim attic of a nondescript house in Bermondsey . . .
Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.
Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of a 1918 children’s classic, The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie’s mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.
Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.
Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.
For it is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader; that sooner or later, like it or not, words have a way of finding the light, of making their secrets known.
I bought the The Distant Hours at a garage sale for $2 I think. Such a bargain!
The book is about Edith Burchill, a young lady who works in publishing and has never really connected with her mother. One day a letter turns up for her mother, and from that moment the secrets and puzzles of the past start to unravel.
The story was cleverly written alternating between the present and the past and from a few different perspectives. It also changed from being first person for Edith and third person for everyone else. At first I found this a little challenging to read however it made a lot of sense to do it that way and I soon became used to the switching styles.
Edith or Edie as she’s mainly known, was a likeable character that I was able to connect with fairly well. Her mother frustrated me at the beginning however as the book went on and what she’d carried for so many years was revealed, I was able to understand where she had been coming from. I also appreciated how her character grew and was able to move on. I liked Edie’s Dad and Herbert, her boss. The Blythe sisters left me with many different emotions, all which kept changing as the book went on.
The story was very interesting and there was a lot of mystery throughout and different threads intertwined together. It was definitely hard to put down.
The book is quite sad and even though it didn’t make me cry as such, it certainly leaves a bit of a depressing mark on you.
There was a lot of vivid description throughout and it is written in a very abstract way. At first I found it a bit bewildering however I soon adjusted. If you like straightforward writing then you might struggle with enjoying this. I think it melds well with the rest of the story.
I enjoyed reading this book, I enjoyed the mystery and secrets. I did find it sad and without spoiling the ending, I was a bit like, “Why?! Why?!”
I would definitely recommend this book for those who like family saga, drama, and mystery. Although this was superbly written, The Forgotten Garden is still my favourite Kate Morton book.