The Clockmaker's Daughterby Kate Morton Published 09 Oct 2018
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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 on the banks of the Upper Thames. 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?
"The Clockmaker's Daughter" Reviews
The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton is a 2018 Atria Books publication.
As the early reviews for this book started to trickle in, I was concerned by too many opening lines that began with: ‘I love Kate Morton’s books, she is one of my favorite authors, but…’
In a year where I’ve been very disappointed in some of my favorite authors, I was terrified it was about to happen again. However, I was determined to keep an open mind, and still eagerly anticipated reading this one. But, by the time the book made it to the top of the heap, I also felt a great deal of trepidation.
The writing, as always, is simply mesmerizing. Morton’s prose is eloquent and often a thing of beauty. But, the story, this time around, failed to draw me in. I even put the book aside for a while and picked it back up in October hoping the ghostly theme would fit into my fall and Halloween frame of mind.
Sadly, I still struggled with it, mightily. For one thing, the pacing is too slow, and there is that large cast of characters, something I tend to struggle with, even under the best of circumstances. I often complain I'm not receiving enough of a challenge in my books. I feel authors often dumb things down for mass consumption, but in this case, I had to work entirely too hard to piece the puzzle together. As embarrassing as it is to admit, when I finished the book I was just plain confused. I had to go back and re-read large portions of the story before it finally came together for me. After all that labor, the ending was very anticlimactic, unsatisfactory, and literally limped across the finish line.
I’ve put off writing this review because I just didn’t feel up to the grueling exercise of trying to articulate my thoughts, especially since, like so many others, Morton is one my all -time favorite writers. Her talent is still quite evident, but with Morton, who is the opposite of prolific, I will have the taste of this book in my mouth for a long time before she provides me with an opportunity to rinse it out.
However, I do think I may still have one of her back-listed titles languishing in my TBR pile, so maybe that will help cleanse the palate until Morton offers more sustenance- hopefully, sooner, rather than later.
2.5 rounded up- mainly because the prose is second to none
Well, I guess you can tell from my rating that this wasn’t my favorite book by Morton, but it wasn’t bad. Maybe my expectations were simply not in the right place, but I had a difficult time following the jumping timelines and in turn, connecting with the characters. I’ll think on this one a bit more before writing a full review, but fans of her previous work might be appreciative to know going into this that it’s a bit different than her other novels. Full review to come.
*I received a review copy from the publisher.
When it comes to an author like Kate Morton readers should be well aware that they will find great writing when picking up a new book and that was still the case with The Clockmaker’s Daughter. However, even with lovely writing sometimes things just don’t work for some readers and that would be my dilemma with this one.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a historical fiction read told from multiple points of view over the course of decades. In the present Elodie Winslow is going through an old satchel when she comes across a few items that draw her interest. Readers are then taken back to the mid 1800s to the Birchwood Manor and the mystery that surrounds it.
Now, normally I am one that can love a story with multiple characters and multiple timelines however it all depends on the way things are done. With this story the author has taken multiple to a whole new level in the fact I found it hard to keep track of so many characters coming into the story. Sometimes I would get the feeling I may need to take notes and then reading feels more like homework than relaxation.
With so much going on I had a hard time connecting to the characters and story with struggling to keep up too. Quite often I wouldn’t know who I was following and for me I prefer a clearer style to follow. In the end I’d say this one just wasn’t my cup of tea but I’m sure some readers will love it.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Kate Morton writes a beautiful piece of epic interconnected historical fiction, with a strong fantastical element, through the ages, with the focus on the rambling Birchwood Manor by the Thames. In 1862, the owner of the Manor, the gifted artist, Edward Radcliffe, and a group of bohemian artists spend the summer there, hoping to be artistically inspired. However, it all ends in catastrophe as a woman is murdered, plus the orphaned artistic muse, Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter, disappears suspected of the theft and Edward's life is shattered into pieces. What really happened? In the present, a young London archivist on the cusp of getting married, Elodie Winslow, is trawling through the archives of James Stratton, and in a leather satchel finds a photograph of a Victorian woman and a sketchbook with the drawing of a home by the river, which somehow feels familiar.
With multiple narrators, we learn of the history of Birchwood Manor, those who have resided there through the generations and their lives, intrigue and difficulties, throughout with the ghostly presence of Birdie Bell. All these disparate stories over time come to connect. Elodie delves into the mystery of the items in the satchel, unaware of her personal family connection and how her investigations will impact on her future and personal life. This is a story of Birchwood Manor, murder, mystery, theft, secrets, lies, art, love, loss and both world wars. The author gives us rich historical details in a narrative that goes back and forth in time in this atmospheric and complex tale. I found this novel entertaining and absorbing if a trifle over long. Many thanks to Panmacmillan for an ARC.
Captivating, mysterious and spellbinding!
KATE MORTON once again put me under her spell with her fabulous new novel THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER. The setting was just as bewitching as the storytelling! I absolutely loved the fantastical elements of this story, learning all the secrets hidden in Birchwood Manor and the character connections to the ghostly presence of Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter which was so pivotal to the story for me. I love me a good ghost story!
THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER by KATE MORTON is an engrossing, wonderful, and breathtaking read here that offers many and such distinctive storylines that I found rather alluring and definitely appealed to me as a reader. I was immediately drawn into this gothic story and it fully captivated my thoughts while I was reading this book.
KATE MORTON skillfully delivers an absolutely beautiful, richly detailed, complex and atmospheric read here that vastly intertwines different time periods and multiple characters together into one astounding and powerful story.
Even though I had to closely pay attention to all the characters and how they were connected to the story and Birchwood Manor it did not take away how entertaining and enjoyable this story was for me. It was great storytelling and the whole story felt like I was doing just that reading a story! I have been craving for a story just like this one and it definitely delivered!
Cover: Eye-catching, stunning, pleasing, and grabbed my attention! That cover alone made me want to read this book and savour every word. A fitting representation to storyline and love how it played into the story so meaningfully.
Title: Intriguing, pivotal, suspenseful, simple but yet an extremely fitting representation to the storyline. Even though The Clockmaker’s Daughter wasn’t necessarily a brilliant title, the ties that bind her to the story definitely was.
Writing/Prose: Lyrical, insightful, engaging, beautiful, and detailed. Morton’s writing style is beautifully detailed and poetic but it definitely required my full attention though. I forgot how beautifully descriptive Morton writes! Once I was able to fully immerse myself in this tale though (which didn’t take very long) and had the feel with how it was written it was much easier for me to read.
Plot: Suspenseful, mysterious, alluring, engrossing, steady-paced, held my attention fully and extremely entertaining. A little bit of patience goes a long way when reading this book!
Ending: Bittersweet, satisfying, and ended with a bit of mystery. Although I found it to be extremely fitting.
Overall: An irresistible, relaxing, delightful, suspenseful, and fabulous read! An epic historical tale that was a little challenging to read at times but oh so worth it! Would highly recommend!
Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for my ARC to read and review! It was an absolute pleasure reading this fantastic novel!
Review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
A romantic love story, a mystery and a murder
Birchwood Manor is located near the Thames and it is at the center of this story and it also holds the truth about what happened one summer in 1862. The house is like a character and has "a voice" that whispers to the reader and makes connections that won't be revealed until later. I kept asking myself, "who is speaking"? That will be revealed later.
The story spans from the 1860's to present day and artist, Edward Radcliffe is at the heart of the mystery. He has found the love of his life, but will his heart will be broken? This part of the story felt old-fashioned and romantic. The characters in the present day story felt very modern and I was intrigued to find out what the connections between past and present were.
This is my first Kate Morton book and it was such an atmospheric, detailed and absorbing tale. There was intrigue, mystery and a rich setting that I could picture perfectly in my mind. I thought the characters were interesting and I wanted to learn what would happen to them in the end. This is not a fast paced page-turner, it is more like a slow brewing mystery. I took my time and enjoyed this one.
Yes, there are lots of characters and two time periods, but the author was able to capture my imagination. I wanted to keep turning the pages to learn the secrets of the mansion. I also enjoyed gathering the many clues that were revealed along the way.
I enjoyed getting immersed in the characters and unraveling the extensive plot. The rich details of this beautifully written novel were an added bonus.
Thanks to Atria for my copy. Review will post to my blog on publication date 10/09/2018.