Books: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Kate Morton has a definite formula when she writes. The first time I read one of her books, I was charmed. The second time, I felt a bit let down. But this time I was able to take it for what it was and enjoy it all the same.

Morton likes to write nesting-box style, with one story wrapped around another and that one encased in yet another plot. In this particular novel, we follow Edith Burchill in 1992, whose mother Meredith receives a letter some 50 years after it was posted. This takes us back to WWII and Meredith's evacuation from London to a castle Kent. So we get Meredith's story, and then we also get the story of the Blythe sisters and their famous author father. An odd collection of characters to be sure, each one exceptionally well drawn. Then we're back to Edie as she teases bits of the history free.

Having read a couple of Morton's books before, I easily identified every coming plot twist well before the reveals were made. Still, most of the fun is in getting there, and Morton has a particularly lovely way with words. So I enjoyed the book despite having figured the mysteries out. And anyway, it's always nice to feel vindicated in the end, to be able to say to yourself, "I knew it!"

In any case, The Distant Hours ties The House at Riverton for me; I like them equally and a bit more than The Secret Keeper. Haven't tried The Forgotten Garden yet, mostly because when I read the back of that one I found the story less interesting. But Morton's writing is so good, it may be worth reading even the less intriguing stories just to savor her turns of phrase.

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