Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read and review this ARC. Full review to be found on Goodreads and on my website.

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Wow another wonderful book for this author! Morton has such a unique and beautiful writing style and the Clockmaker's Daughter is no exception.

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I found this novel somewhat difficult to get into, with the vague characters and varying timelines. I didn't love it and was overall somewhat disappointed in this piece of Morton's writing.

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It is always a treat to read a Kate Morton book. This is another enjoyable hist fic from Morton in that the story is captivating, the characters engaging, and the tome just fat enough to settle in deep.

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I don't know if I have ever - ever - read a more intricately wound, compelling, fascinating story in my life. The Clockmaker's Daughter, a book that I've had a much overdue ARC for for over two years, is far more intertwining, nuanced, and mysterious than I ever expected to give it credit for. I thought I was signing up for a cozy little (although at over 500 pages, not really that little) historical mystery novel in which a girl in the modern day tries to solve a conundrum that took place over one hundred and fifty years ago. Inevitably, I thought her own story would quietly overlap with the mystery, and she'd likely unearth a buried family secret, leading to a reexamination of her own identity. Well, I wouldn't have necessarily been wrong to assume that, but that description is like saying a mountain is just a big hill. It's technically right, but also feels very, very wrong.

The majority of complaints that I can see about this novel revolve around the complexity of the plot and the excessive number of characters and timelines that we visit in order to complete the story. While I completely understand where these ideas are coming from, and have my own thoughts on how it probably could have been reorganised to assist the reader in keeping things straight, it wasn't really a complaint of my own. Yes, there are many characters, and it certainly wasn't easy keeping them (and their timelines) all straight. But sometimes I get to a point while reading a book where the attempt becomes too overwhelming, I give up even trying to keep characters apart - only for them to neatly unwind themselves later and all make perfect sense. This is the experience I had with this one. My main struggle in this regard wasn't necessarily about timelines, those were easy enough, but several character names share the same first letter, and I often found myself having to remind myself which person I was inhabiting. And yet, I never once thought that I wished it were any other way, somehow knowing that eventually, it would all make sense.

One thing I would suggest, however, is reading this book rather steadily. I've actually picked it up before, and while I found myself enjoying the story, I also found that it does not lend itself well to sporadic reading. Even this second time, there were a few days between readings in which I was otherwise occupied, I came back to it forgetting some of the details, only to make the connections later on in the story, farther on than it was intended. Slow and steady, although once you reach the end, I imagine that you, like I, will likely find yourself unwilling to put it down when answers are nearly within reach. I also found that I did not mind that the various timelines were not chronological - we start the story with Elodie, then jump back to Edward, then forward to Jack and Birdie, then back to Birdie, and so on. It's such an interesting way to tell the story, and I for one was thoroughly fascinated.

Maybe it's my own inexperience with general thriller/mystery novels outside of Agatha Christie (although I wouldn't really classify this book as a thriller, but what do I know), but I thought this book did a really great job with how long I was able to go without putting all the pieces together. I found that with each new detail revealed, it was just enough to yearn for more, but not quite enough to really have that many aha! moments. Maybe it's because the details are already revealed at the beginning - we know Fanny is dead, Lily has gone AWOL, so has the diamond, and someone's keeping a secret. None of this really changes, and instead of finding out WHO the murderer was, we are searching for how exactly the events transpire, and also how all the timelines loop together. While I admit that not everything was absolutely perfect - I find myself still wondering how James Strattan fits into the whole deal, as well as (I think) the final location of the diamond - I think that Kate Morton did a beautiful job of revealing all the pieces in such a way that lightbulbs clicked on as the grand image was slowly revealed. I also really liked how not every single story was a large part of the puzzle. Rather, some pieces were large, while others were small. Jack, for example, is a rather small piece of the story. Lucy, while a background character at first glance, holds the central secret and ties the whole mystery together.

While this is my first Kate Morton novel, it certainly won't be the last. I was a little skeptical at first, and had my own reservations about how the book would turn out. Suffice to say, I have rarely been so wrong. I never expected to love this book this much, and I rarely read a book already looking forward to when I can read it again. I spent several whole days on it, and would happily do so again, without regrets. My only regret now is that it has been sitting on my shelf for over two years, neglected, and I've spent that time having not already read it. It has everything I've ever loved, all wrapped in one of those intricate little bows that you can't think a human could have possibly made, but somehow they did. It's a story about love and about art, about family and about lust, written with only the most beautiful of words in the most stunning of arrangements. Perhaps when I reread this one day I will laugh at how passionate I am in describing it, but for now, I am happy to remain in this state of bliss.

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Kate Morton is always a sure value and The Clockmaker’s Daughter is no exception! It took me a little while to finish reading this book, but I ended up really enjoying it just the same. If you’ve never tried one of Morton’s books, now is your chance!

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“They all have a story, the ones to whom I am drawn. Each one is different from those who came before, but there has been something at the heart of each visitor, a loss that ties them together. I have come to understand that loss leaves a hole in a person and that holes like to be filled. It is the natural order. They are always the ones most likely to hear me when I speak…and, every so often, when I get really lucky, one of them answers back.”

After the completion of this book I was in awe of the weaving of time, story and characters. I could feel the age and beauty of Birchwood Manor and all the histories it holds. As I started the novel, curled up on my swing with my tablet in hand, I knew there was going to be a tragedy and I “THOUGHT” I knew things before they were going to happen. HOWEVER, this did not prepare me for the utter sadness and “OMG how can that happen” moments. Humans are not perfect and this book is a treasure of human frailty, and a great glimpse into a large space of time. You get to be transported into the past and meet interconnected people > late 1850 & early 1860 was the time of Edward and Lily or the great tragedy, 1880s was the discovery and Lucy’s school, 1928 was the time of Leonard, 1940s was the time of Tip’s family, 2017 was the time of Eloise and Jack. Everyone has something in common and is connected in some way > through Loss and Guilt and Loneliness. It was a great way to learn important events and created a mystery, almost suspenseful atmosphere but sometime too slowly. I found myself sprinting in parts but really this is a slow swim type of book. Float along and absorb the feelings in the book so you can have the strength for the twisty powerful moments.

“The river here was a she, he’d decided. For all its sunlit transparency, there were certain spots in which it was suddenly unfathomable.’

Aww Lily – the most amazing part of this book is the amazing rendering of Lily’s story because really she is the clock maker’s daughter. She is the storyteller, and later almost becoming some what of a Fairy Queen herself. I kept catching myself and having to stop or back up a bit to see whether the characters are falling in love with the house or with Lily who has quintessentially become part of the manor. Because I think that is a big part of this story, there is no separating the house and Lily. Some times events happen that transform the feel of a space, or land or building. The Fairy Queen’s veil of security first and then Lily’s innocent and intelligent spirit.

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Thank you netgalley and the publisher for this opportunity.
Unfortunately, I could not get into this book but I will surely try at a later day.

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I absolutely adored this book! It had all of the mystery and delicious detail you expect from a Kate Morton book.

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Loved this book!
I truly believe that memories transcend time and place, and that a gut feeling is our body's way of trying to bring that connection to our awareness.

I loved Morton's prose and the way that she wove together then and now and added to the story with each additional character or shift in time.

I read this book over 2 days and came out of it wanting to read more from Morton.

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Didn't like the characters, the plot didn't keep me interested. Think this will be the last Kate Morton I read. Do not recommend.

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What a ride! Such a fun, fast read with lovable characters and great twists. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved it so much that I went out and bought a copy for my mom too!

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I wanted to love this book. I anticipate Kate Morton books - and then become completely enamoured with the characters and the plot. They always leave me wanting more.

Not so much with The Clockmaker's Daughter.

This felt a little out of left field.

In true Kate Morton fashion - it jumps around from the past to the present. And the thing is, the past story could have been so much better if she had simply focused on that. Or at least not included a ghost into the present story.

That's right.

There is a ghost.

It is one of the connections between the past and the future, and quite frankly could have been left out (not that I didn't like the character when she was a PERSON, I just thought the whole ghost aspect was a bit much).

The story begins with Elodie - a young archivist in London. Her mother was a talented violinest and killed when Elodie was but a child - and so her life has been spent with that shadow hanging over her. Jump to the present, and she uncovers a leather satchel containing two documents - one a drawing that draws Elodie back into the past.

The better part of the story really was the summer of 1862 - and had the focus been on Edward Radcliffe and his life, rather than everything else - basically if this had purely been a work of historical fiction, rather than the back and forth, I think it would have drawn me in better. It felt like Kate Morton was grasping at straws to do her usual thing which is connect the past with the present with a sweeping, epic tale, full of strong characters who triumph in the end. Rather this felt a little contrived.

It hasn't put me off Kate Morton novels, but it certainly isn't on my recommending list.

I kind of felt like I did when I read Her Fearful Symmetry after having read The Time Traveler's Wife - it totally wasn't what I expected and the surprise just didn't add up for me to enjoy it.

Thank you Netgalley, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Atria Books for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed this story. It was a bit slow to develop but once all the cogs started turning and the players came into their roles it was magical and addictive.

The author did a fabulous job weaving past and present and linking up all the characters so by the end you see how everything fits. I was a bit disappointed in how it ended and thought we needed a bit more with Elodie and the final discovery.

beautiful story and sad as well. I will definitely read more from this author

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Kate Morton is a wonderful storyteller. She can take two (or more) time periods and characters within them and weave an incredible story. The Clockmaker's Daughter showcased her talents once again. But...I didn't completely fall in love with it as I had hoped to. It's a great novel, don't get me wrong, but I think I expected more.

Here's the synopsis:
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 a 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?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.
I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this novel that prevented me from loving it. It might have been the number of points of view (there are so many that I honestly couldn't tell you all of them). Or it could have been that Part One only had two POVs and switching to others in the following parts made me miss Elodie. She played such a huge part in Part One and barely showed up in the whole rest of the book.

I also wasn't a huge fan of how the book ended. I was reading along and knew it would be done soon because I could tell things were being wrapped up and all the little clues and hints were coming together into an almost satisfying conclusion. Then I realized I only had about 35 pages left of the book. How could it all come together in a great ending in only 35 pages? Turns out it couldn't. Not totally. That being said, there is resolution. And we, as the reader, do know the full story (and I do kind of appreciate Morton assumes intelligence of the reader and allows us to make some final connections). I think I just wanted (needed) to see all the characters finally realizing the full story too. (Wow, it's hard to write about the final pages of a novel without giving anything away.)

Even if I wished the ending had played out a bit differently for the characters, I was reminded how great Morton is at bringing seemingly unconnected threads together to form a full picture. I never know exactly how things are going to be connected but I trust that Morton has a wonderful story in store for me. There's nothing better than exclaiming "Ohhhhh!" as you realize how something that seemed insignificant earlier on was actually the key all along.

The setting of this novel was absolutely magical. It's no wonder Elodie, as her mother before her, was entranced by the fairy story and the house in the country. I could easily picture the house and the landscape as I was reading - and definitely wanted to visit even if the house is likely haunted.

The art nerd in me loved the art history aspect of the story too. It was really neat to read as Morton imagined what it would have been like for artists at the time gallivanting off to make art and how they worried about making pieces to satisfy those wealthy folks who were paying them.

While The Clockmaker's Daughter wasn't as amazing as I wanted it to be, I was still hooked and completely invested in Kate Morton's newest novel. It's mysterious, historical and contemporary, and really well written. It's also a beast at 400+ pages so make sure you have the time to commit once you start because you likely won't want to stop.

*An eARC of this novel was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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A story of the past that most would call a "ghost' story by a capable writer who captivates you within the first chapter. I couldn't put this book down. A wonderful historical novel that has be researched with precision to build a strong and compelling read.

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.... I loved it and then it just ended, I felt as if the author got bored writing and said,”ok let’s wrap this up!”

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This book was not for me. I truly just found it boring, I liked the chapters in the past, and they were connected well, but I just couldn't make myself care. There were just too many people. Morton has both the future and the past and both timelines have so many characters. I think it would've been better if, because there are two separate timelines, she cut down on characters in each time period about half each. I also felt it was a little long for what it was doing, which made finishing it harder. It was written really nicely, I do enjoy Morton's writing style, but I found the pacing to be way too slow for me. I do love the cover though.

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Historical Mystery
Here’s another genre-blending blockbuster from Kate Morton, author of The Lake House and The Forgotten Garden, among others. It’s an historical mystery, a gothic ghost story, and a family saga. Best of all it features an archivist! Londoner Elodie Winslow is in her early 30s, engaged to be married though fed up with the wedding preparations and planning expected by her future mother-in-law. She seizes the opportunity for distraction when she discovers an uncatalogued box of items, including a sketch of a beautiful woman and another of riverside house that seems hauntingly familiar. It turns out to be Birchwood Manor, where a young group of Victorian-era artists spent a month in July 1862, a stay that ended with one woman dead and another missing, the theft of a priceless diamond, and a promising artist’s life is ruined.
Morton makes the house the main character in this novel, which shifts in time back and forth over more than a century and a half. So many characters people this novel – a Dickensian band of young pickpockets, an art historian, a private detective, a schoolmistress, a war widow – their paths crisscross through space and time as the house’s secrets are slowly revealed and uncovered. It’s also a story of loss, as hearts are broken and grieving children somehow find resilience and strength. Morton’s timeshifting approach requires the reader to keep track of various voices and who knows what when – but somehow she makes it all work, like a lush and tangled garden that yields beauty the closer you look. The characters are so well developed, and the plot threads slowly untangle to reveal the whole story; while avoiding a too-neat ending, by the last page all the big questions are answered. My thanks to Atria Books for the digital reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel that contains a sepia photograph of a beautiful Victorian woman, and an artist's sketchbook with a drawing of a gabled house by the river. She is taken aback by the drawing because it is so familiar—it reminds her of the house from the stories her late mother used to tell her. But who is the beautiful woman in the picture? This sends Elodie on a journey to Birchwood Manor, an estate on the river Thames, in the hopes that she will uncover the identity of the girl that transcends the photo with her arresting gaze.

A century and a half earlier, Edward Radcliffe hosts a month-long retreat for group of artists at Birchwood. Their plan is to create art, but at the close of the month, Radcliffe's fiancée has been shot and killed, his muse and a family heirloom have vanished, and his life and reputation is in disrepair.

The Clockmaker's Daughter is a remarkable story that is told in multiple voices and spans many years. Its themes are adversity, loss, love, and resilience and at the heart of it all is the ghost of Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.

Morton's writing is gorgeous, sweeping, and intricate. This hauntingly beautiful story is made up of vignettes—which are stories from the people that lived in the house—that thread the past and present storylines together. My only criticism is that there are too many of them and what happens is that they detract from the narrative. There are times where several chapters go by without any mention of the main characters and unfortunately, this is where some of Morton's audience will jump ship.

The finale is incredibly satisfying and I encourage the reader to slog through the vignettes because their patience will be rewarded. Morton makes it all worthwhile by harmonizing the stories and characters. She is a master and her writing is breathtaking.

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