Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of Kate Morton. And then I read a few engrossing reviews of The Distant Hours by various other Cannonballers, and now I can't imagine not reading everything that Kate Morton has ever written.
The Distant Hours is the story of Edie, who lives in 1990s London. She works in publishing, has just broken up with her live-in boyfriend, and needs someplace to live that fits her budget. One day, while Edie is visiting her parents, her mother receives a letter in the mail that was written in the 1940s but was in a lost bag of mail, recently recovered. The letter sends Edie's mother into hysterics, and sends her crying up to her bedroom. Over the coming weeks, Edie gets bits and pieces of information from her mother (who she is not particularly close to) about the letter and about her secretive past, including the amazing fact that during WWII, her mother (Meredith) was sent to live in a castle in the countryside with three mysterious sisters. It turns out that the castle in question was where Edie's favorite book was written, "The True History of the Mud Man".
Edie visits the castle and meets the sisters and becomes obsessed with finding out more about her mother's time there in the 1940s. Meanwhile, she moves back in with her parents and gets to know more about her mother and her past.
The book jumps from the 40s to the 90s with ease and we find out more about the castle, the sisters, and a mystery that binds them together with young Meredith (and how the mystery relates to the letter that Meredith receives in the 90s). The book is pretty long -- over 500 pages -- and honestly, I had no idea how the mystery was going to wrap up and was pleasantly surprised that it was something I hadn't even considered.
I loved Morton's writing style -- beautiful and gothic, with an extraordinary attention to the detail of the war era. I have already recommended this book to several of my "anglophile" friends, and just picked up another of Morton's books at the library.