Kate Morton is waaaaay up there on my list of favorite contemporary authors. I loved The House at Riverton, and I think I love The Distant Hours even more.
The novel begins with a lost bag of mail and a letter delivered to Edie's mother 40 years too late. Edie is fascinated to learn that her stodgy mother once lived in a castle with a famous author and his three daughters. From here the novel journeys to Milderhurst Castle, past and present, and into the lives of the three spinster sisters: Juniper, Percy, and Saffy. Edie and her mother are also wrapped up in the story, as are a cast of other characters who skirt on the edges of their lives.
The Distant Hours is a gothic novel full of mystery, suspense, romance, and hauntings. It isn't a ghost story, but it feels like one in a heart-palpitating, edge-of-your-seat kind of way. Morton is a superb writer and mesmerizing storyteller. Her prose is lyrical and her characters so well-drawn that I can still see them clearly, weeks after finishing the book. This is one of those books that I thought about during the day and couldn't wait to get to in the evenings. I read the last part slowly, reluctant to come to the end and leave the fascinating Blythe sisters.
I highly recommend this novel! Fortunately, I still have one more Morton novel, The Forgotten Garden, to enjoy.