I think I deserve a prize for reading this behemoth of a book. Oh wait, the prize is moving on to another book that couldn't possibly be as unpleasant to read as The Distant Hours. The idea for the book sounded fantastic- an old almost forgotten castle, some spinsters, a letter previously lost in time, and some familial secrets. My problem with this book is that it was slow to get going, nothing really drew me in and made me want to keep reading. The characters felt flat and never ingrained themselves into my mind, even with an awesome name like Juniper. The highlight for me was the story about the Mud Man in the prologue, and the rest of the nearly 700 pages was a chore to finish. Overall the book felt unnecessarily long and sloppy. Based on the other reviews, I'm obviously in the minority for despising this book. If architectural details get you all hot and bothered, this is the book for you. Otherwise, skip it no matter how pretty the cover looks.