Photo: Adriana Glackin
It was with a little apprehension that I opened this book. This is the third novel by Kate Morton, a Brisbane based author. Her other two novels are “The Shifting Fog” and “The Forgotten Garden” and I thoroughly enjoyed reading both. So why the apprehension? Well it seems that authors tends to have a formula, a signature , to their writing and sometimes it can be so overpowering that it overtakes the story; so that all you see is the formula that’s been followed rather than the story or even the characters. Think of John Grisham and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I didn’t want to feel the disappointment I did when I read the third, almost identical Grisham novel.
Kate Morton’s style is to weave more than one story within the pages; she also has this wonderful knack of being able to take you back into the past, back to the present and then back to the present again over and over, the whole time weaving the stories and characters together. She does this so effortlessly, that although it’s been that way for all 3 of her novels the actual narratives and characters more than hold their own. This latest of hers, is another clever narrative, and my only regret is that I raced through it far too quickly – I simply needed to know what was going to happen next!
It was also with some disappointment that I closed the book for one last time. At 497 pages, the book seems long enough – and heavy enough when it falls on your nose when you’re up late in bed reading when you should be sleeping... But I feel a sense of sadness that I won’t hear any more of the tales of Saffy and Percy, two of the characters from the novel. There simply wasn’t the room in the book to squeeze anymore in, for that I’m certain and I think it is more a testament of the writing skills of the author that she is able to leave you with this feeling. Or, it might just be me being greedy and wanting to know more.
If you’ve read her previous two novels, then you’ll definitely enjoy The Distant Hours. If you haven’t read any of her novels and you enjoy your chick-lit with the modern day mixed with the early 20th century, full-bodied characters and clever twists, then give them a go. I know I haven't given anything away here - that would be spoiling it, now wouldn't it...
Kate, if you happen across this blog post, it would be really, really good if you could write a spin-off novella about Saffy and Percy. Such sweet dears, I would have loved to hear more of their stories.