Book Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
“Each clock is unique,’ he used to tell me. ‘And just like a person, its face, whether plain or pretty, is but a mask for the intricate mechanism it conceals.”
For everyone who has lived in an old house, or wonders about the places they go and what has happened there in the past, this books is a wonderful reminder that often people’s lives are woven together throughout history in many ways, both known and unknown.
This is my first Kate Morton book and I would love to read more of her work in the future as her writing is so lyrical and true. I was drawn to this book as my own father is a clockmaker, so I just had to read a book called The Clockmaker’s Daughter!
This is a story about many characters spanning over more than 150 years. The reader is taken to places—so richly described— such as London, both past and present and Bombay. Surprisingly, I especially enjoyed the setting of Bombay. These characters all happen to be involved with Birchwood Manor in one way or another. Birchwood Manor, also having it’s own reputation among folk tales in the area. The storytelling describes the life of a house beautifully. Having lived in an old house, I was always fascinated by the people who may have lived there and the events surrounding it.
The novel begins with Elodie Winslow, an archivist living in the present. She finds a leather satchel containing a Victorian photograph and artist’s sketchbook, thus becomes intent on finding out their secrets. The story involves a love, a lost gem, an artist’s retreat, a girl’s school, thieves, loss, ghost and fairy tales, a family secret and an unforgettable summer in 1862. And in amongst them, Birdie, a woman who has witnessed it all.
The characters are easy to like and well written, as are the era’s in which they belong. Morton also includes such a variety of ages for her characters, giving them appropriate voices and opinions. Their lives are interwoven in such a lovely way and it’s exciting to realise when they become involved with each other, which is not always obvious. One of my favourite characters was Edward, an artist who owned Birchwood Manor. I would really have like to have a whole novel written from his point of view—it wasn’t included in the book (or even have him as a friend!). He sounds so passionate and his letters in the book sound so interesting. I was a little sad that more of them weren’t included.
“Edward was like no one I had met before. When he spoke, it was impossible not to listen…He was the music that gets inside a person’s head and changes the rhythm of their pulse; the inexplicable urge that drives a person to act against their better judgement.”
This would have been a hard book to piece together with so many characters all living at different times. I can see it might be easily confusing to the reader, but the novel was paced so that the appropriate parts of the character’s lives could be told in enough exquisite detail. It did seem a little slow at times, but I enjoyed being immersed in each particular time period. It helped to enrich everything without being overdone. Plus, there was so much mystery surrounding everything, it was hard to put down. When it came to revealing secrets, I thought the pacing was good.
I would like to read this book again in the not to distant future to find extra details I missed the first time. It was a beautiful journey strolling through time.
“Love—that’s what she felt, an odd, strong, general love that seemed to flow from everything she saw and heard: the sunlit leaves, the dark hollows beneath the trees, the stones of the house, the birds that called as they flew overhead. And in its glow…the sense of being bathed in the light of certainty that comes with being known from the inside out, from belonging somewhere and to someone. It was simple. It was luminous, and beautiful, and true.”
Read: July/Aug 2019