‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton follows present-day archivist Elodie Winslow as she comes across a mysterious and very old leather satchel carrying a photograph of a striking Victorian woman, and a sketchbook with a drawing of a twin-gabled house Elodie swears she’s seen before. But how?
Over 150 years before Elodie comes across the satchel, in the summer of 1862, a group of artist friends coverage at Edward Radcliffe’s Birchwood Manor, ready to spend a month absorbed in the Upper Thames, their art, and each other. But, before the summer can come to a dreamy end as planned, one woman is dead, another is missing, a rare antique has been stolen, and life will never again be the same for this group of young artists – especially not for Edward Radcliffe.
What exactly happened behind the walls of Birchwood Manor in 1862, and why is a place haunted by such mystery and tragedy so vividly familiar to Elodie? And who is the mysterious woman in the photograph, who seems to be at the center of it all?
Told in multiple POV’s, across multiple time periods, ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a story of murder, forbidden love, theft, art, and the transformative, timeless effects of love and of grief, all converging around one place – Birchwood Manor.
This is the first Kate Morton book I’ve ever read, and I have to say I found ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ to be lyrically written, atmospheric, and haunting. It’s a literary work of art, for sure.
‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a book that takes its time. It unfurls its mysteries like a foggy day reveals the surrounding world as it dreamily burns back up into the atmosphere. This is definitely a book with which you need to have patience while it simmers. Its style is very old-world – harking back to both the language and literary style that was popular during the 1800’s. Very fitting for the setting.
While this book was beautiful and lush, and the story engaging enough that I read it cover-to-cover, I wasn’t immediately sucked in. It took me time to settle into the story, and once I was, a shift in time and character would come along and jolt me right out of my cozy rhythm. I liked reading about the different characters and their time periods, but there were so many POV’s – something I’m not typically fond of – that it made the book choppy and slightly hard to follow. This one took me a while to read because it had a hard time keeping my attention. And yet…I loved this. The charm of ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ was irresistible, and though it took me a while to finish, in that time the story smoothly and slickly spun itself around me and bundled me snugly up in its web. It will remain with me for some time.
‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is a beautifully written, old-world style mystery that you can take your time with, and savor. It’s not a quick read, and there’s a lot to take in, but as long as you know that going in, you’ll love it and be able to enjoy it. If you like unfrenzied, exquisite novels, ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is for you, and definitely recommended. I’m looking forward to discovering some of Morton’s other work!
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.