Cover Image: The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter

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Member Reviews

Due out in October, this hits all the Morton sweet spots:  mouldering Victorian mansion, a story that shifts back and forth in time, secrets and lies, a mystery that unspools with gorgeous prose and unforgettable characters.  Add to that formula a brooding, brilliant artist (in the 1860's) and a young archivist about to enter into an ill-advised marriage and you have the perfect summer read for historical fiction fans.  Highly recommended.
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Kate Morton does it again!  An intricately written and gloriously plotted story rich with character and emotion.  Her best to date!
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Writing: 3.5 Plot: 3.5 Characters: 4

Richly detailed historical fiction with a convoluted plot pulled from a set of narratives scattered across time but centered on place:  Birchwood Manor — a 400 year old house immersed in myth and mystery.  Murder, mayhem, stolen heirlooms, and old artifacts form the center of the story, but they exist in a sea of love, loss, and a range of historical settings including Queen Elizabeth and the Catholic persecution of 1586, the (fictional) Magenta Brotherhood artist group of the mid 1800s, the establishment of a school for young women in the late 1800s, London and environs in WWII, and modern day archival work.  It’s engrossing but complicated — I found that documenting a timeline as I read was extremely helpful.

The writing is good but a little long winded for my taste.  On the other hand, if you love historical dramas you may enjoy the longer opportunity to immerse yourself in the 500 pages of intriguing characters and historically accurate details.  Did I mention that one of the narrators is clearly a (compelling) spirit that has been bound to the house for over a century?
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“Read, remember, think.” These three words capture the very basic premise of Kate Morton’s newest story, and are especially important to two of our protagonists - Elodie the archivist and Lucy the Reader/Teacher/Collector/Thinker. The reading, remembering, and thinking these two do throughout this enchanting story are the Yin to the Yang of Birdie, the Clockmaker’s Daughter who narrates much of the story.

Morton is especially adept at time slip stories that feature multiple voices which, in less capable hands, can muddle the story. Here she tells the story of a fateful summer month in 1862 which touched multiple lives over the next 150 years, eventually coming to light at the hands of a 21st century archivist enchanted by a photo of an enigmatic beauty and a sketch of a house that she knows from a childhood story. That archivist, Elodie, is one of several narrators. Others include Birdie, the titular “Clockmaker’s Daughter” who truly is the heart of the story; Lucy, witness to the tragic events of 1862; Juliet, a journalist and young mother widowed during World War II; Leonard, a soldier haunted by war who first gives voice to Birdie; and Ada, a fiery young girl who will not give in to bullying. Morton swirls all of these voices together into a whirlpool of laughter, love, deception, and betrayal all centering on the house, Birchwood Manor.

It is Birchwood Manor that gathers the multiple story strands, beginning with the fateful summer of 1862 when artist Edward Radcliffe assembled a group of artists known as The Magenta Brotherhood to spend a glorious month creating art at the remote manor house.    In attendance is Radcliffe’s muse and model, with whom he intends to run away to America and marry. Over the course of a few hours, all their plans unravel, leaving one woman dead and another disappeared. The events of that day carry forward through generations, until Elodie discovers the photo of Birdie/Lily and Edward’s sketchbook, leading her to unravel the story.

Morton has a knack for bringing her characters to life, developing them in such a way that the reader laughs, cries, sighs, and grumbles through the story, feeling the feelings as deeply as the characters themselves. All of Morton’s books contains characters and stories like that, and she succeeds again here, building a story that you will remember for a long time.

My only complaint Here, and it’s a small one, happens midway through, when we get to a jarring, climactic scene with Ada which is never fully resolved or explained, at least not to my satisfaction. Despite this one issue, I found The Clockmaker’s Daughter to be just as lovely as Morton’s earlier work and highly recommend it.
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"People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others."

Kate Morton returns with a deep, dark tale spanning 150 years. Multiple voices reveal this intriguing, layered novel, best enjoyed in large sections. The complicated plot line hides, diverts and distracts...true Morton fans will hang on for the ride, and will be rewarded with an ending you didn't see coming!
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A very well written story that takes you from the present to the past and back again. The author creates characters that are richly developed. She builds the suspense from the first page and pulls the reader along on a journey that is beyond thrilling. Loved it.
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I wasn't able to get into this. The writing style just didn't hold my attention. I didn't finish it.
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My favorite of Kate Morton's books so far. I have read all six of Kate Morton's books and have truly enjoyed seeing how she develops as an author within the confines of a genre that - let's face it - she has mastered: the big, dreamy, descriptive, secret-laden, twisty, atmospheric take on the push and pull between the past and present. Somehow she always finds a fresh take on these types of stories. 

The narrator of The Clockmaker's Daughter is pitch perfect but other voices and perspectives come in, too. They slowly (and sometimes confusingly) paint a picture of a place and how to echoes down the decades. This novel almost felt like a series of interconnected short stories knit together - I was surprised by that approach but loved it. 

In addition, all of the usual Kate Morton signatures are here: big haunted country houses; remembered summer afternoons; lush English landscapes, hidden photographs/journals/letters. Unlike some other time-slip authors (who can be hit or miss from book to book), Morton reliably delivers reads you can sink into.
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Kate Morton NEVER disappoints.  She just keeps hitting all the right notes with her characters and her sense of place.  The Clockmaker's Daughter is lovely, atmospheric, and sensual.
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