Why is the The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton one of the best books of 2009? Well, perhaps it’s because every member of the staff who has read it loves and raves about it to anyone who asks. Or, perhaps it’s because Kate Morton is an author who capably weaves a spellbinding tale, one that moves smoothly between time periods exploring the lives of three women and their mysteriously interlocking life stories. With alternating narratives that are gripping and brilliantly told, The Forgotten Garden holds the reader’s attention in a way few novels can. Simply put, it is mesmerizing and thus my favorite novel from 2009.I was clearly captivated then, and now, after reading Morton’s latest novel The Distant Hours (released today, 11/9/10) I have to say, that this novel is tied with Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Revolution as one of my favorite novels of 2010.
One of my co-workers, when writing about The Distant Hours, quoted the famous opening line from Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again”, but changed the memorable gothic home’s name to Milderhurst, the castle which plays such a pivotal role within this new novel. In doing so she beautifully evokes images of a large gothic home, alive and haunted by memories of the past. For Milderhurst, the castle upon which the story revolves, is a living entity, one that holds dark secrets, misplaced dreams, blazing brilliance, and lost innocence. It is the focal point as Morton weaves seamlessly between World War II and 1992 England, beautifully intertwining the different narratives so that they become one, heart-wrenching, achingly romantic story.
The Distant Hours is a novel of lost love, familial obligations and secrets, history and it’s unyielding grip on the present, mothers and daughters, and the relationships between sisters. It is wonderful and captivating, a book to be savored for it’s mastery of gothic suspense and its ability to engross the reader. Kate Morton has, with this new novel, firmly earned a place as one of the top fiction writers around.
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