Lost in Morton

June 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

dISTANTTitle: The Distant Hours

Author: Kate Morton

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Length: 562 pages

Kate Morton writes my favorite general fiction sub-genre.  Did you grow up reading Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and the Mysteries of Udolpho? Just before your reading level allowed the immersion into those worlds were you held captive by The Secret Garden, gothic ghost stories, and possibly some Anne Shirley who was a hopeless book-nerd and romantic?  Kate Morton writes these tales, all grown up and contemporary.  And they put me out of commission from line one until completion.

I have loved every story I’ve read by Morton. They are each one incredible and amazing, riveting and beautiful.

The Distant Hours was no different.

Except I figured it out far too soon.

I spread a lot of work out by authors to keep this from happening.  I have a rule about Morton, that I must give at least a 12 month break between books (which works out well because she takes just the right amount of time to write them and makes this not only possible but necessary).  This rule also keeps my husband sane, as I get completely lost in Morton and am completely gone from this world until her stories have ended; and even when they end, I have a nostalgic resignation that is hard to kick.

Morton’s layers are deep and onion-like, piece after piece of the puzzle is laid out for you over the course of the book.  Always leading up to the moment when you are presented with the facts of the matter, revealed to you with a shudder of lovely understanding of everything all at once.

But I figured out The Distant Hours too soon, I think around the the two hundred page mark or so rather than the typical five hundred mark.  Of course, I still had to read every word after my realization to be sure I was correct.  I half expected her to shake me up a bit, and she tried! But in the end, I was right!

I still LOVED this book.  It is highly recommended to any gothic loving book fiend, or even World War II reader… if you love castles, are a British bibliophile, or just plain love a good story about people.  I recommend ALL Kate Morton books.  If I could write half as well, I’d consider myself a success!

I just also had to note that this being the third book I’ve read by her, I felt like I figured her out.  Still, looking forward to The Secret Keeper.

Kate Morton Blog Pic

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Gothic Picture Books

April 24, 2012 at 3:36 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

While picking out picture books, I’m slowly but surely learning that the things that grab my attention may or may not grab Ayla’s, and even if they do grab Ayla’s sometimes maybe I shouldn’t be reading them to her quite yet.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, is so cool.  Gothic, looks like an old movie, is all black and white, and its just pretty much Edward Gorey style awesome.  Ayla even liked the pictures.  She flipped through them over and over again.  But like Edward Gorey’s ABC book,The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and the ever famous The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly (which if you read emphatically so that a child stays interested, it turns very creepy very quickly), there are some stories that should wait until maybe age five or six, instead of 18 months.  Or should they?  I don’t know.  It just seems a little weird to be telling the death tale of a fly by evil spider to my one and a half year old.

Then, there’s books that are simple, like Nosy Rosie by Holly Keller, that are simple: green grass, cute little fox, and a sweet ending.  Ayla loved this one too.

How do you decide what to hand them when?  On one side, I don’t want to be Phoebe’s grandmother on Friends who turned off all the movies before the unhappy ending and the character didn’t know that Bambi’s mother got shot or that Old Yeller died at the end until her thirties.  But neither do I want to be the creepy mother raising her child to disturbing things like “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” even though as a teen and adult I find them quite funny.

So again I ask you, how do you decide what to hand them and when?  I suppose the age old dilemma for every parent is based in the fear of warping their child, and when it comes to books I have an even bigger problem because its not just about what my child can handle, its the message I give her when I make the decision.  I don’t believe in censorship, but I greatly believe in reading guidance.

What are some of your favorite ‘gothic’ picture books? When did you decide to share them with your kids?  Or did you let them seek them out themselves?

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