The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
Publishing Date: 20th September 2018
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 600
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House—the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860s until the present day.
My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Oxfordshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.
Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.
In “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” it is 1862 and a group of bohemian artists spend their time at Birchwood Manor. Its owner is the gifted artist, Edward Radcliffe. The relaxed visit is interrupted by a burglary and murder of Edward’s fiancée and a disappearance of his muse, Birdie Bell. Edward’s life is shattered to pieces.
It’s 2017 and young London archivist, Elodie Winslow, comes across a satchel hiding a photograph of a Victorian woman and a sketchbook with the drawing of a home by the river that feels very familiar to Elodie. She starts to dig and soon she is to discover a story that it’s also connected to her family, full of secrets and tragedy.
There are many different settings and the story jumps between times, however it is always underlined in which period we’re finding ourselves in, so I didn’t have any problems here and I didn’t feel confusion. Where I was a little confused though was that under all those description and many colourful and eclectic characters lay a mystery that was a brilliant idea and was incredibly captivating, yet it was somehow forgotten because of all the many other things and events. The author’s writing style is beautiful and elegant though, almost lyrical, and it wonderfully conveys the atmosphere of all the times she’s writing about.
There are many characters introduced to us – probably too many, to be honest, and instead on action this book mostly focuses on telling us their stories over a century – and this is probably where the mystery has gone a little lost. All of the characters had their own, diverse and hooking stories and maybe this was too much for this story, as it sometimes felt too overfilled. One little example, I found Elodie’s subplot starting very strong and interesting but then it lost its impact and focus, which is a shame as it was an interesting one. This tale is told through multiple narrators and with them we slowly and painstakingly learn the story and background of Birchwood Manor, its history and its residents – this especially through the eyes of the ghost, Birdie. She tells us a tale full of mysteries, murder, lies and secrets, theft, tragedy and drama that the house witnessed through generations. All the characters in this book are somehow connected to this house.
The end is beautifully and neatly wrapped up, it brings almost all the threads together, though I also had a feeling that there are still some questions open, especially about the characters from the present times. But it could be that I’ve missed something, I admit, because guys, and it pains me to tell this, to get through all the descriptions was incredibly hard and so I skipped some passages. What I didn’t miss, though, was the name of the Clockmaker’s Daughter – I was desperate to learn it.
“The Clockmaker’s Daughter” was a very complex book and I can only imagine how much research went into it! It was a very captive story, very rich in descriptions that were so eloquent and vivid, effortlessly helping to bring the setting and characters to life. It was, however, not as wonderful as I was expecting. Kate Morton has many fans out there and one of my fellow bloggers that I value very, very much always rave about her book, and so I though I must finally read a Kate Morton novel! Sadly, I couldn’t find this wow – factor and felt a little disappointed after reading it, but probably I should have started with another book of hers – I will for sure getting back to her whole previous catalogue.There were also incredible twists in this book and it brings everything you’re looking for in good historical fiction – incredibly well research, mystery, murder, romances and a hidden treasure. Please, don’t get me wrong – this book had its brilliant moments but I think it would be a real winner if it was shorter and the number of characters was reduced. I just have a feeling that the potentials of this gorgeous plot has not been made use of.
It was full of imagination and creative, a book different to any other books, filled with many interesting characters, beautiful descriptions, luminous writing, complex plot and beautifully written, and even though it was not this what I was expecting, it was still a wonderful read and a great escape into the fictional world.