The Clockmaker's Daughter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

I always get excited about a new release from Kate Morton and The Clockmakers Daughter was no exception. Luckily, Netgalley provided me with an advance copy for an honest review. I’m just not sure what happened after that. Let’s go from the top.

Elodie Winslow, an archivist in London, discovers a sketchbook in a satchel bag and is instantly intrigued by one of the drawings – a twin-gabled house near a river. Brilliant, I think. Working as an archivist would be such a great job because the grass is always greener in the job you don’t have.

Soon after this, the reader is introduced to an extensive number of new characters from different periods of history and within fifty pages, you have yarn vomit (for all my crotchet and knitting readers).

Basically, all the ideas are presented in such a way that for me was unclear, there are so many characters introduced, from so many time periods it’s a struggle to keep them in the right decade and the link between the multiple threads (see what I did there) is so tenuous and sort of predictable and suddenly you’re in a pair of fishnets trying to keep warm.

Don’t get me wrong, the writing is the same lyrical prose we’ve all come to expect and love. Morton delivers on the imagery, the emotive occurrences and it is easy to imagine each of the settings. No matter where we read from, it seems we have a familiarity with the locations. This skill, however, isn’t enough to save even the most dedicated reader from boredom. I don’t know how far into The Clockmaker’s Daughter I was before I started checking how much was left but it felt never-ending.

Ultimately, I didn’t love it – I don’t think I was even lukewarm for it by the end. The Clockmaker’s Daughter suffered because of a weak foundation. I also feel it was a mistake by Morton to focus so much on the history lessons intermittently spaced throughout the book. I was especially lost when suddenly we were in India and this was compounded by the storyline that followed. I feel it was unnecessary for so much of the word count to be given over to something that could have been a passing reference. There were already enough characters without this part.

It is a real struggle to write this review. I adore Kate Morton. I get super excited when I discover she has a new book coming out. I also love big books and I’m not scared to commit for the full text but this one has left me feeling a little meh. I’m glad to see on Goodreads that I’m not the only person frustrated with not know what was going on for large portions of the text. I dislike saying that because I’m a reader. I read. But I cannot think of another book where I haven’t had a clue what’s happening or another where I was bored senseless for about 80%.

Will I go back for another Morton? Yes. Definitely. One book that I don’t particularly like doesn’t make someone a bad writer (or me a bad reader). This one just didn’t work for me.

Oh, and one last thing, can someone remind me if Elodie actually married her fiance or did she run off with Jack?
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The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton is both a historical and contemporary novel about love and loss, and the impact through time as the novel covers a span of 150 years.
As with all Kate Morton’s stories, it is beautifully told with a poignancy that leaves the reader feeling serene, knowing we have been in the presence of a great love.
It is this great love that infuses a house and all the intersecting lives down the years. It is a great love that is drawn to certain people at a certain time in their lives. It is a great love that will impact all the lives that it intersects with. This is a love that lives where it has always felt happiest.
The house in the tale almost becomes a character in its own right as it draws the lost and lonely towards its walls. It is a house where hope lives. “He’d lost his way but hope still fluttered in and out.”
There is a great loss within the novel. It is a loss from which one does not recover. Other losses occur and they produce survivor’s guilt. “The guilt of the sibling survivor.” Guilt has the power to trap us in the past. We “must forgive oneself the past or else the journey into the future becomes unbearable.”
Over the course of the novel the reader meets a great many characters as we learn their stories. Everyone will have their favourites. For me, I loved both Tip and the voice that is the constant down the years.
The novel is a work of great beauty. There are some books that you never want to end – and this is one such book.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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One woman is alone in an empty house, abandoned by her love and her family. Over one hundred years later, another woman stumbles upon a rare drawing during her work as an archivist. Why is it that the drawing so perfectly matches the description of the house in her grandfather’s favourite fairy tale? And why does she feel compelled to keep it secret? 

This book is all about the plot and the intersecting histories. It’s a little slow and feels very long, but it’s worth sticking with because the observations about the nature of time and art are really thought-provoking, and the stories dovetail beautifully. I really enjoyed this – well worth the effort. Highly recommended.
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Another belter from this author. As with all her books, it is like curling up under a cosy blanket in winter or sipping a cool drink on a summers day - perfection.

At heart a mystery, this book also has a real sense of place and time and the characters all felt real, alive, vivid. This book even managed to get me through an operation recovery when I couldn't focus on anything else. 

Loved it.
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I was incredibly excited to receive an advanced copy of the book - The Clockmaker´s Daughter from Kate Morton.  This was the first book I have read from Ms Morton and I fell in love with her poetic language and evocative imagery.  

The storyline spans multiple generations, from from young archivist - Elodie in the present day to the title character - 'the clockmaker's daughter.  At work Elodie discovers an old leather satchel containing a mysterious sketchbook which appears to be from famous painter - Edward Radcliffe.  The sketchbook has images of a beautiful young woman and an unknown house.  Elodie works to unravel the mystery, travelling to Birchwood Manor and in doing so, learns more about herself and her past.  

Along the way, we hear from other characters who have inhabited Birchwood Manor throughout its history. I find the narrative of the novel, the strongest when it is from the point of view of Elodie and our main protagonist - the Clockmaker´s Daughter.  At times, I found the book quite heavy going, yet the heart breaking and beautiful conclusion more than made up for a certain slowness in the middle. 

I look forward to reading more from Kate Morton in the future.
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Sometimes when reading a book I try and picture it as a film and often if a book is good enough you can really see the story come alive in your mind. With The Clockmaker's Daughter I could imagine it as a TV series. One of those prime time BBC1 Sunday dramas. The book is such a sweeping joy covering around 150 years and while there is a story of Birdie, a ghost at Birchwood Manor there are several linked stories that take place over time from her birth to modern day. There are many characters and the book chops and changes timelines rather than follow time linear and I think that I would have liked to have had maybe some title headers to know what period we were about to be in but it didn't affect the overall story for me. I absolutely loved it.
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Unfortunately, I have tried to read this book on a number of occasions, but I could not get past the first few chapters. I find this a real shame as Kate Morton was once one of my favourite authors, which is why I requested this book. Over a year later, I still can't get into it. It seems my tastes in books have changed. I am so sorry. I will try to read it again in the future.
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Well written, but slightly lacking.
Interesting plot, well written, but...
1) there were a lot of characters. I didn't have a problem keeping track of them or the many different time periods, however this did result in only one character, the clockmaker's daughter, having any depth to it.
2) people didn't seem necessarily 'of' their time period. I had to check back to find the date, sometimes, as some of the characters, for example Elodie, could have been from any time period.
3) I found the ending weak; I don't require all ends to be neatly tied up but it felt unfinished.
Having had those moans, I did quite enjoy the story and thought the author was very able in her description of the house, indeed the house seemed the one character of this story that we understood the most.
I guess that means that we all probably would like to live in that house, but I'm not sure that I would be fussed about ever meeting any of the characters, which means the story loses something for me.
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Took a while for me to realise that the character in the title was actually the resident ghost of the house, which have more meaning to the story. Found the historical story of the house and it's occupants interesting. Descriptions were beautifully written.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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Tried to read this and just couldn’t get into it. Yet expected greatness from this author. I just really struggled as it didn’t capture me which I was hoping it would.
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More marvellousness from Kate Morton. Such an excellent story teller.  My apologies that this review is so late.
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This is the kind of book I used to love but now read very rarely – a long, sprawling, mainstream novel, holding stories set in the present and the past. I picked it up because I loved the idea of a maker of clocks, because I was curious to see what made the author so successful, and because I was eager to escape into a book for a long, long time.

At the heart of this book are events that played out in the summer of 1862.

A group of artists and models gathered at the country estate of Edward Radcliffe, the most successful of those artists. Their sojourn in the country was brought to a sudden and brutal end when Radcliffe’s fiancee was shot dead, and his model and a priceless diamond vanished without trace.

Much could have been done with that story, that setting, those characters, but the detail is only filled in at the very end of the book, after all of the other stories that it touches have been explored.

Those stories have some lovely ingredients:

- In present day London, an archivist makes a strange discovery that she is quite sure is tied to a story that she had been told as a child.

- After losing her husband early in the Second World War, a young widow leaves London to raise her children in the country.

-Between the wars, a biographer visits Birchwood Manor to research a book about about Edward Radcliffe, his circle and the events of the summer of 1862.

-Years before that, the house had been turned into a school, and one girl was desperately unhappy when her parents went away and left her there.

The book moves between all of those stories, sometimes staying with one for a long time and sometimes staying for a very short while. It might have been confusing, but somehow it wasn’t. It felt quite natural, and I liked all of the stories; some more than others, but I was always interested and I was always curious to know what might happen, and how all of the different strands would be tied together in the end.

There is one more story at the centre of the book; and you might say that it is the story around which all the others spin. This story is the richest, in colour, in character, in history, and in drama. It is the life story of the clockmaker’s daughter, who it seems will always be tied to Birchwood Manor.

The book as a whole – the picture that all its stories paint – is beautifully and thoughtfully wrought. I think of painting pictures because I was very taken with the way that the author started each story simply and gradually introduced more details so that the characters and their lives became utterly real. I might have known them, or known of them, had I lived in the right age.

I would have loved to visit Birchwood Manor. There wasn’t a great deal of description, and that left room to imagine. The house lived and breathed, and it was easy to understand why it drew in different people over the years.

I particularly appreciated that the theme of loss, how we deal with it and how it affects us, is threaded though all of these stories. There is a young woman who never knew her wonderfully gifted mother and feels a little overshadowed by her; there is a man who lost his brother in the great war and was plagued by survivor’s guilt; there is a girl who loses the childhood home in India that she dearly loved when she was sent ‘home’ to England to be educated; there is ….

The narrators had clearly been carefully chosen, and not only for that thematic link. It allowed some characters to be familiar and some to be rather less knowable, and though I would have liked to have known some of them rather better I did appreciate that the author’s choices were right for the tale that she had to tell and the mystery that had to be unravelled.

I was particularly taken with Edward Radcliffe’s much younger sister. She was bright, she was bookish, and when she inherited her brother’s house she opened a school there.

I loved these words, spoken to her brother’s biographer:

If you are to understand my brother, Mr. Gilbert, you must stop seeing him as a painter and start seeing him as a storyteller. It was his greatest gift. He knew how to communicate, how to make people feel and see and believe …. It is no easy feat to invent a whole world, but Edward could do that. A setting, a narrative, characters who live and breathe – he was able to make the story come to life in somebody’s mind. Have you ever considered the logistics of that, Mr. Gilbert? The transfer of an idea? And, of course, a story is not a single idea; it is thousands of ideas, all working together in concert.

I suspect that catches the author’s own ethos.

Her finished work is less than perfect. Sometimes the writing is a little flat, and a little more editing would have been welcome. But the book works.

When the events of the summer of 1862 were finally explained, that explanation was satisfying and believable; and there was a nice mixture of explanation and possibilities suggested but not pinned down in other plot strands.

And, for me, this was definitely the right book at the right time.
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Elodie (archivist with Stratton, Cadwell & Co) is on a quest in the summer of 2017 as she is compelled to find out more about the historic contents of a satchel linked to Edward Radcliffe and Birchwood Manor. She knows people are hiding the truth and using her archivist skills, sets out to uncover the secret.

Her story is interspersed with the lives of other visitors to Birchwood Manor. Ada who attended Birchwood when it was a school for young ladies, Leonard in 1928 writing his book, Juliet and her family during WWII and Jack on a hunt to find an item that is proving elusive. I loved the emotional theme that weaves through all the visitor’s lives. The suspense of not knowing at the end of Ada’s narration was fabulous. I thought one thing but it was in fact something different!

There’s another important narrative too that brings Pale Joe into the story … and brings the strands together back to that heady summer in 1862.

The structure, tension and suspense the different narratives brings to the story is brilliant.

I loved all the settings. Life as a thief on the streets of Victorian London came alive for me as did time spent in Birchwood Manor, The Swan and the village at different time periods.

Kate Morton’s figurative writing drew me in. For example:

Free-floating anxiety circled the air above her like a mosquito looking to land a sting.

As the clock ticked over past midnight and the new day slid into position .

Folklore, myths and the supernatural all play a part in The Clockmaker’s Daughter giving the story an edge.

I became lost in the world of The Clockmaker’s Daughter as I turned those pages and dipped in and out of time. It’s an atmospheric and absorbing read. Highly recommended.
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Another captivating tale by Kate Morton and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The tale unfolds as it whisks the reader through periods of time into the lives of the occupants of Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames.

Taken from the publishers description of this book: "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."

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a preview copy.
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Wonderful book, captivating and a real 'page turner'.  Centred on a house, the narrative of which is given through the spirit of a young lady who died there.  How she came to her demise is the main plot and involves a string of families, unknowingly linked through the house over the years and various generations.  The background of each family and how they are linked becomes clear gradually over the exquisitely written chapters.  Spellbinding and thoroughly recommended.
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When Elodie discovers a long forgotten satchel at her job as an archivist, she is overcome with curiosity: inside, she finds a Victorian era photo of a mysterious and captivating young woman as well as an infamous Victorian artist's sketchbook. She soon realises that this mystery strikes close to home when she finds a sketch of a very familiar house from her past. A multigenerational story as Elodie's investigation probes the history of the Radcliffe house.

I have been a big fan of Kate Morton for years, having picked up and loved every novel she has written. I was delighted, and immediately drawn in, by the synopsis of The Clockmaker's Daughter, which promised to be another immersive multi-generational mystery. The grand houses at the centre of each Morton book are incredibly nostalgic for readers who have grown up reading classic English novels as well as providing a comforting theme that ties all her publications together. If anything, the house at the centre of this novel took an even bigger role in the narrative than previous Morton novels, with much of the story pinning on Elodie's multigenerational investigation of the history of the house through its previous occupants, all of whom have a special relationship to the house. I loved how Morton goes further in exploring a supernatural aspect to the ties its occupants have had with the house, which was entirely unexpected for me. I really liked this choice; as much as I love all of Kate Morton's books, I must admit that, for me now, many of the stories have blended in together a bit in terms of themes and plot points.  As such, The Clockmaker's Daughter provided a welcome change and definitely broke up any feeling that a reader may have about potential repetition between novels. Nevertheless, I must admit that I did feel this was not her strongest novel, although I did appreciate that this one was so different to some of her others whilst retaining that magical Kate Morton feel.

I have often found Morton's books to feel quite slow at the beginning; while I adore her writing, it can feel long-winded when you are newly introduced to a new cast of characters and a new mystery. However, usually, this is quickly forgotten about, and by the end of the first hundred pages, I am feverishly racing through to find out what happens... Unfortunately, this did not happen here: I never truly got sucked in entirely as I did find The Clockmaker's Daughter a bit choppy. Part of the fault might lie in that I found this one felt more loosely edited and I felt that the narrative would have been stronger if it had been made tighter in some places. Moreover, it took me a while to get absorbed into all the perspectives, as Morton explores each generation through a new lens (or, in some settings, multiple lens). While the power of Morton's writing definitely rang true, it did feel like just when I got attached to a new setting and character, time moved onward to a new cast. I really enjoyed reading about Ada, for example, but her part of the story ended with an abrupt redirect to a new generation, which felt unsatisfying. Alongside this, characters such as Elodie's mother were overshadowed by the central mystery, when I would have loved to learn more about her. 

I am quite sad to only be giving this one a 6.5/10 as she has set the bar really high. I would still recommend everyone to give it a try, particularly if they have enjoyed other novels by Morton. As always with her novels, the writing is incredible and utterly compelling (once you get past the first few pages) and builds up to a strong and satisfying ending.
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This is a quintessential Kate Morton book.  The story sweeps along, and the reader is drawn into the lives and loves of the characters.  But it all feels a bit forced.  Her earlier books were like a breath of fresh air, but this just feels a bit formulaic.  It's a good story, and if you want to while away time in a very pleasurable way then this is the book for you.  I just felt it was all a bit half-hearted, and nowhere near as good as Kate Morton's earlier books.
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This book had a wonderful atmosphere. The writing style is lovely and the tone that follows the two characters is intriguing. The descriptions conjure vivid imagery.
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A good read although slightly long, it seems to rush a bit at the end as though the author has got fed up with it.
Can be a bit confusing with the name changes but you soon get who is who. The story itself could be anyone's 
daughter so 'Clockmaker ' is as good as any. Felt a bit cheated at the end as it left many unanswered questions.
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