INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“An ambitious, compelling historical mystery with a fabulous cast of characters...Kate Morton at her very best.” —Kristin Hannah
“An elaborate tapestry...Morton doesn’t disappoint.” —The Washington Post
"Classic English country-house Goth at its finest." —New York Post
In the depths of a 19th-century winter, a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London. She grows up to become in turn a thief, an artist’s muse, and a lover. In the summer of 1862, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she travels with a group of artists to a beautiful house on a bend of the Upper Thames. Tensions simmer and one hot afternoon a gunshot rings out. A woman is killed, another disappears, and the truth of what happened slips through the cracks of time. It is not until over a century later, when another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor, that its secrets are finally revealed.
Told by multiple voices across time, this is an intricately layered, richly atmospheric novel about art and passion, forgiveness and loss, that shows us that sometimes the way forward is through the past.
|Publisher:||Washington Square Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Kate Morton is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Her books are published in 34 languages and have been #1 bestsellers worldwide. She is a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature. She lives with her family in London and Australia.
Read an Excerpt
We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said that it was haunted. It wasn’t, not then, but it’s a dull man who lets truth stand in the way of a good story, and Edward was never that. His passion, his blinding faith in whatever he professed, was one of the things I fell in love with. He had the preacher’s zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusiasms they hadn’t known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.
But Edward was no preacher.
I remember him. I remember everything.
The glass-roofed studio in his mother’s London garden, the smell of freshly mixed paint, the scratch of bristle on canvas as his gaze swept my skin. My nerves that day were prickles. I was eager to impress, to make him think me something I was not, as his eyes traced my length and Mrs. Mack’s entreaty circled in my head: “Your mother was a proper lady, your people were grand folk, and don’t you go forgetting it. Play your cards right and all our birds might just come home to roost.” And so I sat up straighter on the rosewood chair that first day in the whitewashed room behind the tangle of blushing sweet peas. His littlest sister brought me tea, and cake when I was hungry. His mother, too, came down the narrow path to watch him work. She adored her son. In him she glimpsed the family’s hopes fulfilled. Distinguished member of the Royal Academy, engaged to a lady of some means, father soon to a clutch of brown-eyed heirs.
Not for him the likes of me.
His mother blamed herself for what came next, but she’d have more easily halted day from meeting night than keep us apart. He called me his muse, his destiny. He said that he had known at once, when he saw me through the hazy gaslight of the theater foyer on Drury Lane.
I was his muse, his destiny. And he was mine.
It was long ago; it was yesterday.
Oh, I remember love.
This corner, halfway up the main flight of stairs, is my favorite.
It is a strange house, built to be purposely confusing. Staircases that turn at unusual angles, all knees and elbows and uneven treads; windows that do not line up no matter how one squints at them; floorboards and wall panels with clever concealments.
In this corner, there’s a warmth, almost unnatural. We all noticed it when first we came, and over the early summer weeks we took our turns in guessing at its cause.
The reason took me some time to discover, but at last I learned the truth. I know this place as I know my own name.
It was not the house itself but the light that Edward used to tempt the others. On a clear day, from the attic windows, one can see over the river Thames and all the way to the distant mountains. Ribbons of mauve and green, crags of chalk that stagger towards the clouds, and warm air that lends the whole an iridescence.
This was the proposal that he made: an entire summer month of paint and poetry and picnics, of stories and science and invention. Of light, heaven-sent. Away from London, away from prying eyes. Little wonder that the others accepted with alacrity. Edward could make the very devil pray, if such were his desire.
Only to me did he confess his other reason for coming here. For although the lure of the light was real enough, Edward had a secret.
We came on foot from the railway station.
July, and the day was perfect. A breeze picked at my skirt hem. Someone had brought sandwiches and we ate them as we walked. What a sight we must have made—men with loosened neckties, women with their long hair free. Laughter, teasing, sport.
Such a grand beginning! I remember the sound of a stream close by and a wood pigeon calling overhead. A man leading a horse, a wagon with a young boy sitting atop straw bales, the smell of freshcut grass— Oh, how I miss that smell! A clutch of fat country geese regarded us beadily when we reached the river before honking bravelonce we had passed.
All was light, but it did not last for long.
You knew that already, though, for there would be no story to tell if the warmth had lasted. No one is interested in quiet, happy summers that end as they begin. Edward taught me that.
The isolation played its part, this house, stranded on the riverbank like a great inland ship. The weather, too; the blazing hot days, one after the other, and then the summer storm that night, which forced us all indoors.
The winds blew and the trees moaned, and thunder rolled down the river to take the house within its clutches; while inside, talk turned to spirits and enchantments. There was a fire, crackling in the grate, and the candle flames quivered, and in the darkness, in that atmosphere of delicious fear and confession, something ill was conjured.
Not a ghost, oh, no, not that—the deed when done was entirely human.
Two unexpected guests.
Two long-kept secrets.
A gunshot in the dark.
The light went out and everything was black.
Summer was curdled. The first keen leaves began their fall, turning to rot in the puddles beneath the thinning hedgerows, and Edward, who loved this house, began to stalk its corridors, entrapped.
At last, he could stand it no longer. He packed his things to leave and I could not make him stop.
The others followed, as they always did.
And I? I had no choice; I stayed behind.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The Clockmaker’s Daughter includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by 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.
More than 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?
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The Clockmaker’s Daughter begins with the assertion that “We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said that it was haunted. It wasn’t. Not then.” (p. 3) Who is narrating this passage? How does it create a sense of mystery surrounding Birchwood Manor? What are your initial impressions of the ground and house at Birchwood Manor?
2. Birdie describes Lily Millington as “her salvation.” (p. 99) How does Lily help Birdie adjust to life at Mrs. Mack’s? What survival skills does Lily teach Birdie? How else does Lily impact Birdie’s life and legacy?
3. Birchwood Manor feels like another character in the book. Edward writes “it has called to me for a long time, you see, for my new house and I are not strangers.” (p. 210) Discuss the connection that Edward feels to the house. What other characters feel a strong connection? Have you ever felt an attachment to a house where you’ve lived or visited?
4. Why do you think Kate Morton chose to title her novel The Clockmaker’s Daughter? Who is she? How does her story tie the other plotlines in the novel together? Did you find any of the connections surprising?
5. One of Edward’s most famous paintings is View from the Attic Window. Describe the painting? Birdie says that when she views the painting, “I do not associate it with the fields outside Birchwood Manor . . . it makes me think instead of small dark spaces, and stale air.” (p. 337) Why does View from the Attic Window make her feel claustrophobic? Describe the inspiration behind the painting.
6. Describe Elodie’s relationship with Alastair. She “had been flattered when [he] asked her to marry him.” (p. 24) Explain this statement. Why do you think that Elodie says yes to Alastair’s proposal? When does Elodie begin to realize they’re not well suited?
7. Why do you think that Pale Joe shows Birdie kindness? Describe their friendship. What does each offer the other? Were you surprised to realize who Pale Joe is? Why do you think Birdie is willing to share her nickname with Pale Joe?
8. Storytelling is a central theme in the novel. When Elodie asks her father about the bedtime story from her childhood, he tells her that he thought it might be too scary for a child but that Lauren, Elodie’s mother, felt that “childhood was a frightening time and that hearing scary stories was a way of feeling less alone.” (p. 20) Do you agree with Lauren? What other purposes does storytelling serve? How does Kate Morton connect the characters within The Clockmaker’s Daughter?
9. Penelope suggests that Elodie walk down the aisle at her wedding accompanied by a video of her mother, Lauren Adler, playing the cello. Why do you think that Penelope makes the suggestion? What does Pippa think? Do you agree with her? Why or why not? Were you surprised by Elodie’s final decision with regard to the videos? Explain your answer.
10. Elodie handles the archives of James Stratton. Who is he and why are his archives significant? Were you surprised to learn of his connection to Birchwood Manor? Based on James’s romantic history, “[i]t seemed to Elodie almost as if he’d set our purposely to choose women who wouldn’t—or couldn’t—make him happy.” (p. 16) Do you agree? Why do you think that James chose the partners that he did?
11. According to Birdie, Fanny “has become a tragic heroine, impossible though that is for one who knew her in life to believe.” (p. 131) What did you think of Fanny? Describe her relationship with Edward. Compare his relationships with Fanny and Birdie. How is Edward different when he is with Birdie?
12. What did you think of Mrs. Mack? What kind of activities does she require Birdie to take part in to earn her keep? Why do you think that Mrs. Mack takes pains to remind Birdie that her mother had been a proper lady? Do you think she takes good care of Birdie?
13. When Ada learns that she is going to be staying at Miss Radcliffe’s School for Young Ladies, the narrator writes “School. Young ladies. Welcome. Ada liked words—she collected them—but those four hit her like bricks.” (p. 159) What do you think of Ada’s school and how her parents told her that she would be attending?
14. “Ada’s parents had left her at Miss Radcliffe’s School for Young Ladies in the misguided expectation that she would be magically transformed into a proper English schoolgirl.” (p. 164) Do you agree that this is the mission of Miss Radcliffe’s school? Does she achieve it? Explain your answer.
15. What did you think of Jack? How does his life intersect with Elodie? What do they discover together? How does their chance encounter affect their lives?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. When Tip and Elodie discuss her impending wedding, Tip asks about Alastair, telling her, “It’s important to pick someone who can make you laugh.” (p. 89) Discuss Tip’s advice with your book club. What traits do you think are important in a romantic partner? What advice would you give to Elodie as her wedding approaches?
2. Many of the characters receive meaningful gifts in The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Edward gives Birdie a clock and Elodie receives a hand-crafted trinket box from her great-uncle Tip. Discuss why these gifts are so meaningful to each of the women. Have you ever received any gifts that were particularly significant to you? Describe them to your book club taking the time to explain why they were so important.
3. As an eighteen-year-old student at Oxford, Leonard discovers Modern Art, a discovery that “transformed rapidly into a passion.” (p. 211) Leonard is stirred by Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. View these paintings and discuss them with your book club. Why do you think Leonard finds them so inspiring? What did you think of the paintings?
4. When Ada asks Shashi to tell her a story during the daytime, she expects Shashi to say “no” because “Ada knew the rules. The best storytellers only ever spoke by dark.” (p. 153) Do you agree with Ada? What do you think makes for a good storyteller? Are there any stories you remember from your childhood?
5. To learn more about Kate Morton, visit her official site at KateMorton.com, read about her other books, and find out when she will be in a city near you.
Chronology of Birchwood Manor
1854 Edward Radcliffe, fourteen years old, is sent to stay with his grand- parents in Wiltshire for the summer. Intending to raise a ghost, one dark night he instead discovers Birchwood Manor.
1860 Edward Radcliffe, now a successful artist, purchases Birchwood Manor, a house on the Upper Thames.
1862 The founding members of the Magenta Brotherhood travel from London to Birchwood to spend a summer month at Edward Radcliffe’s house.
1862 Frances Brown is murdered in a robbery at Birchwood Manor. An- other woman disappears.
1882 Lucy Radcliffe inherits Birchwood Manor after her brother’s death.
1883 Miss Radcliffe’s School for Young Ladies opens for business in the village of Birchwood.
1899 Ada Lovegrove, aged eight, arrives at Birchwood Manor to attend Miss Radcliffe’s School for Young Ladies.
1901 Miss Radcliffe’s School for Young Ladies closes down.
1928 Lucy Radcliffe donates Birchwood Manor to the Art Historians’ Association for use as a Residential Scholarship for students.
1928 Leonard Gilbert, a doctoral student at Oxford University, is awarded a three-month Residential Scholarship to live at Birchwood Manor.
1928 Alan and Juliet Wright, newlyweds, spend their honeymoon at the Swan, a public house in the village of Birchwood.
1940 Evacuated from London, Juliet Wright and her three children take up residence at Birchwood Manor during the Second World War.
1980 The Art Historians’ Association receives a bequest enabling it to begin converting Birchwood Manor into a museum.
2017 Jack Rolands, a former policeman, travels from Australia to Birch- wood Manor, having been engaged to search for something that has been lost.
2017 Elodie Winslow, an archivist with Stratton, Cadwell & Co. in London, arrives at Birchwood Manor seeking to determine the provenance of an old sketch of the house
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While I really enjoyed the book I felt like the book was unfinished. For me there really wasn't a resolution for Elodie or Jack. Their stories felt like they were just beginning at the end of the book. I did like how everything and everyone got tied up nicely in the end. Overall it was a really good story. The plot had many twists and without giving too much away I honestly did not expect the roles certain characters took on in the mystery as they did.
I have read all of Kate Morton's previous books and liked them, but I'm on page 182 of this one and wondering if I'll be able to finish it. So far it is incredibly boring and chaotic. Definitely not what I expected.
This is a wonderful book. She is my new favorite author. I am usually not a major romantic/mystery reader, but this book made me absolutly love this combination. I am going to buy this book and 4 more by this author. As soon as I finish reading my 900 pg book about the tudors and ann rice vampire chronical book.
As all of Ms Morton’s books, confusing when bouncing back and forth in time, but all becomes clear in the end!
‘'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.
I am a big fan of Kate Morton- have read all of her books. Love them all with my favorite being " House at Riverton". But this book didn't measure up. Too much jumping around- too many characters. There were good moments, but the overall story did not flow. Such a disappointment! If you want to try this author, read any of her other books!
I love Kate Morton's books and have read them all. But i have to say that this one's ending left me confused and it felt disconnected and I had questions unanswered. I will reread it and will continue to read her books.
The story was a very involved one.I did not care for the shift in time from chapter to chapter.When I finished the book was still wondering if I really understood all the relationships.
This was an amazing book!
Very confusing too many characters. I really enjoy reading Kate Morton books but this one l didn’t enjoy. Hope her next book is like her other books.
The book was pretty good. There was too many characters. I found myself back tracking in order to keep everyone straight. I would still recommend the book.
Initially intrigued with the premise of a long-ago tragedy reaching forward to impact the present, particularly as the tragedy was from the Victorian era, I dove into the book hoping for a story that transported while showing the interconnection and impact of the initial event over the years. And while individual points of view are both beautifully written and hold description and emotion that lead readers to want more – the book failed to captivate me, and I was left often wondering about characters who shared information and seemed to be ‘important’ who just went poof. When you add this lack of threads and a twisty-turny meandering path to any sort of answers, and then make the choice to not clearly define narrative points of view, the story gets lost in the ‘who was that and why are they speaking’ questions that arose. And many of those moments arose, as Morton chose to use multiple (I lost count) narrative voices – some sharing information, others simple impressions and others still whose point I have yet to discern. I wanted a touch of a gothic feel, a bit of ‘oh so that’s why X did that” that would, if not instantly then eventually give me a sense of how a murder and a house could effect the lives (not necessarily for the better) some 250 years later. And sadly, I didn’t’ get that – and found myself hard-pressed to muddle through proclamations and moments from characters that were ill-defined and often felt randomly placed as I tried to work out the one thread and touchstone for the story. It never came. I’m sure that fans of Morton’s writing will love this – but as a first introduction to her work I found it didn’t hold my interest or my attention past an hour at a shot. While the writing is lovely – and her prose is exceptional – it was the plotting choices and characters that never quite developed into anything beyond nebulous that has me disinclined to read her books again. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
4.5★s The Clockmaker’s Daughter is the sixth novel by Australian author, Kate Morton. When bank archivist Elodie Winslow opens a long-forgotten box, she’s fascinated by the contents, in particular a leather satchel containing a sketch book and a photograph of a beautiful young woman. While it should relate somehow to the founder of Stratton, Cadwell & Co., James Stratton, it is apparent that some items belonged to nineteenth-century-artist, Edward Radcliffe. But one sketch especially resonates with Elodie: she’s convinced it is the place of her mother’s bedtime stories. Edward had purchased Birchwood Manor because he felt a strong connection with the place. The plan had been for the Magenta brotherhood to spend the summer of 1862 there, engaged in artistic pursuits. But the intruder who shot and killed Edward’s fiancée, Fanny Brown, had put a premature end to that. Edward's utter devastation was to be expected after such a tragedy. The precious Radcliffe Blue was now missing, and the Police report implicated Edward’s most recent model, a woman going by the name of Lily Millington, but not everyone believed that version of events. What really happened? And did it have anything to do with the satchel, the sketch book and the photograph that Elodie had found? Morton's latest offering weaves the stories of many characters, in the form of anecdotes, vignettes or short stories in themselves, together into one epic tale that spans over a hundred and fifty years, and that ultimately reveals the answers to mysteries and connections, to each other, and to the house. Such an epic needs many narrators, so the cast is not small, even including a ghost, and yet there are often barely a few degrees of separation between them. Morton does tend to use coincidence, which can occasionally make the final reveal seem contrived, but readers familiar with her work will be aware of what to expect. There is no lack of parallels between the lives of various characters and while it is easy to hope for the best for those whose stories are told, some (Ada, Lucy, Winston) hold particular appeal and, for most readers, young Tip will be the stand-out favourite. There are some suitably nasty characters as well, one whose idea of friendship leaves much to be desired. This is a story with twists and red herrings, with grief and guilt, with theft and treasure and hidden spaces, with love of many sorts and a heart-warming ending. Classic Kate Morton. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
This book was downright amazing. Told over the span of multiple generations, it all comes down to one name: Birdie Bell. The book starts out with a group of artists who spend the summer at Birchwood Manor, hoping to be inspired. But at the end of the summer, one person is dead, one is missing and one's life is in ruins. Then over a hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Windslow discovers an old leather bag with some unknown treasures inside. As she tries to figure out what they are and what they have to do with each other and possibly with her, you'll be on an adventure of a lifetime. This book is so fun, full of intrigue and mystery, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Don't miss it!
Kate Morton's books have always held a special place on my bookshelf, and her words a special place in my heart. She has the ability to weave such interesting stories, decades or centuries apart, and keep you hooked on as many timelines as she'll give you, as many characters as needed, as many chapters as necessary - a feat that eludes some authors. Dual timelines are certainly not for everyone, and even as much as I love the plot device, more often than not I find myself highly invested in one and only reading the other just to get back to the good stuff. That's never been the case for Morton, though, and I'm glad - because she brought out ALL the timelines for this one. When I first read the synopsis, I got a vibe similar to Tana French's The Likeness, or Donna Tartt's Secret History (which, to be fair, I have not personally read BUT I have heard is similar to plot to The Likeness). A group of individuals runs away and creates their own home, their own family, their own retreat, just for a little bit - but inevitably it all goes wrong. However, after getting about 25% into the book, I realized that while the synopsis of the book wasn't wrong, and wasn't exactly deliberately misleading, this book only barely resembled The Likness / The Secret History. For that matter, it had a lot less resemblance to Morton's previous works, as well. I know that won't work for every Morton fan, but I ate it up - every POV, every timeline, every chapter that led me in another direction than I was expecting and away from where I wanted to go. The thing that stayed with me long after closing this book, like all of Morton's other books, was the characters - and there is a hefty cast in this novel. Birdie, the clockmaker's daughter. Elodie. Lucy. Leonard. Tip. Juliet. Edward. Ada. And, amazingly, Birchwood Manor. (It's not as though Morton has created the idea that a place, a home, an idea, can be a character - but she does it so beautifully here that it seems necessary to add "amazingly" as a descriptor.) In a way, that I can't explain so as not to give away secrets the book will divulge in it's own time, the manor house itself becomes the narrator of the character's stories. Watching the lives of the various characters weave in and out of the house's history over 150 years was such an enjoyable experience for me. I read the first two of Morton's books (The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden) sometime in 2007 and immediately fell in love with her writing, with her stories, with her characters. The Distant Hours was just as good, if not better, than her first two, and then - and then. The Secret Keeper blew me away - it is still to date one of the books that I am able to successfully hand-sell the most at my bookstore. Following The Secret Keeper was a tough task, and honestly The Lake House let me down a little bit - it still had all the signature touches of a Morton but it was too neat, too easy, too ... something. Or not enough of something. I had a lot of anticipation riding on this most recent release and there's honestly nothing to say other than I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to have a finished copy in my hands!
BOTTOM-LINE: Great prose, wonderful saga, but difficult structure . PLOT OR PREMISE: A house in the country has some hidden secrets as do some of the people who visit the house throughout 150 years of history. . WHAT I LIKED: The overall story is awesome, despite some accessibility challenges with the structure (see below). You get to see pieces of the long story in the 1850s with one character as a young girl and another as a young boy; period two is an outing a number of years later when a bunch of artists descend on the house for a seminal event in their history; later occupation of the house by a woman who runs a girls school there; transformation of the house into a museum much later, to honour one of the artists from the fateful summer; occupation of the house by a young family during WWII; a visit to the house by a man and a woman years later; and finally a visit by an archivist in the present day, trying to find out some of the history from those various periods. She has some of the clues about the various timeframes and is trying to piece together more information about the fateful summer. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I didn't like the constant jumping around in time and point of view, which is the structural problem I mentioned above. There are at least seven separate timeframes for the house, and even a couple more in there that are alluded to through reminiscing, but some of the timeframes are not indicated very precisely. You kind of have to figure a couple out as you go. In addition, while the author is a master of lyrical prose, you know some of the story is going to be a bit weird when early on you see an event from the point of view of a satchel that is being opened. Yes, the actual satchel, as if it is alive. It is not the only fantastical element in the book, but the rest would be too much of a spoiler to reveal. A bigger problem I had was that in one timejump, the new PoV is in the head of a woman who has a name VERY similar to that of another character; so much so that I was ten pages into the section before I realized that it wasn't the woman I thought it was, and the timeframe was VERY different as a result. I often read books that have timeline issues that are way more complex than here, but even I had trouble following some of the hops. I also found part of the ending left things a bit hard to understand with one person acting very out of character and the final piece being a bit open-ended. . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow her on social media.
Kate Morton gave herself quite a challenge with this book because of all the different story lines. But if anyone is up to the task of bringing it all together, it's Ms. Morton. I will admit it took me awhile to get into the story. I was about 1/4 of the way in when there was the first connection between the past and the present. I remember thinking - oh, okay, now this is going to get good. I just had to find out how all the pieces of the puzzle were going to fit. This is a book to be enjoyed slowly. No skipping or skimming allowed. Do not try to hurry, but savor every moment because at the end, you too may just think - magical. My thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley.
Liked story, but bothered by some events. Did not like the way Birdie died. Lucy should have rescued her from secret place. Lucy put her there. That was the flaw in the story. Lucy hid Birdie under the stairs to protect her & left her there to die. Lucy was old enough and smart enough to remember Birdie was there and had no way to get out. Instead, she left with all the others and let police think Birdie was a thief.
Disappointing from Kate Morton.. Kate Morton has been one of the few authors whose books are a splurge to purchase as soon as released in hardback. Clockmaker's Daughter is a disappointment. I agree with another review in that the book is chaotic and difficult to finish. I enjoy books with time travel or merging of different periods, but this one jumps around so much it's difficult and has so many different characters, it's difficult to keep everything lined up. The individual "stories" go into what appears to be irrelevant background and are unfinished. Sorry to say, but future books by Kate Morton will not be on my "A" list.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this story. It does jump around quite a bit, so be prepared to pay attention. My favorite character was the house! Birchwood Manor feels like a character; it is so central to all that happens. Wouldn't I love to have a tour of the place, maybe stay there a few days and chat with "Lily," the clockmaker's daughter of the title! We have a mystery running through the book- in 1862, a group of artists and their models spend the summer at the house, including Lily. Then one day in August, there is a break-in, a young woman is shot and killed, and a priceless diamond pendant is stolen. In the aftermath, Lily is nowhere to be found. Did she have something to do with the theft and murder, as history believes? Or was she a victim of circumstance? We do get the answers as we go along, but things do drag a bit in spots, and there are some things concerning the diamond and a missing, unfinished painting that stretched my credulity a bit. There are plenty of untidy endings at the finish, but that just gives one the chance to contemplate what happened. I'd definitely recommend this book, but like I said, be ready to pay attention.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is different from Morton’s other novels (and I've read them all!). The differences are distinct enough that some fans of her work might be disappointed. For me though, I wonder if The Clockmaker’s Daughter might mark a growth in Morton’s writing style that makes it more of a reflection of real life. Not everyone’s story ends perfectly. Sometimes, we must just accept what happens and continue to tell the story, and hope others learn from past mistakes and missteps.