The Clockmaker's Daughter: Book summary and reviews of The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker's Daughter

A Novel

by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton X
The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
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About this book

Book Summary

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House--the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadows across generations, set in England from the 1860s until the present day.

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 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? 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.

Excerpt & Reading Guide

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. In addition to love—not only romantic love but also love between parents and siblings—and loss, the stories, brilliantly told by Morton, offer musings on art, betrayal, and the ways in which real lives and real places can evolve over time into the stuff of legends." - Publishers Weekly

"The ratcheting between eras makes sorting the many characters all the more challenging, while the powerful theme of bereft childhood gets lost in an excess of exemplars. Nevertheless, those who appreciate a leisurely and meditative read, with lush settings, meticulous period detail, and slowly unfurling enigmas, will enjoy this book." - Kirkus

"If readers are willing to navigate its labyrinthine path, they may ultimately find The Clockmaker's Daughter rewarding. Still, one couldn't blame them for giving up on the ghost." - The Washington Post

This information about The Clockmaker's Daughter was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Betty Taylor

Tragic, Yet Magical
Kate Morton’s genius is revealed with her latest book THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER. Be forewarned – the book is a journey - a journey through time, a journey through lives, a journey through hearts. The story may be difficult to follow at first as it weaves in and out through the ages and numerous characters are revealed. But once you grasp the essence of the story it becomes almost magical.

Part One sets up the story in present day 2017 when archivist Elodie Winslow comes across an old leather satchel containing a journal and a framed photo. That statement is so mundane – Ms. Morton write it so much more beautifully. “The pinpricks of sudden light were a shock and the satchel, pressed deep inside the box, exhaled”. The satchel exhaled, she breathed life into that sentence! “Open me, the satchel urged Look inside”. Inside the satchel were a framed sepia photograph of a woman in Victorian-era clothing and an old monogrammed journal with numerous artist’s sketches. A sketch of a river scene and a twin-gabled house in the background filled her with a sense of déjà vu. She was overcome with the memory of a story her mother used to tell her, a children’s bedtime story.

Then with the remainder of the book we meander back and forth throughout the decades from 1862 back to present-day 2017. (I admit that I was confused until I realized that the Roman numeral labeled chapters were all narrated by the same woman, a woman whose real name no one remembers, the woman who ties all the time periods together.) We learn that on a summer evening in 1862 a group of artist friends gathered at Birchwood Manor. That eventful evening after which none of their lives would ever be the same. The events of that night would remain buried in the memory of the one person who held all the pieces to the puzzle. A stranger had appeared, a woman was killed, another woman has disappeared, and a family gem vanished. Theories developed but only one person knew the truth. Morton then masterfully guides us along as she reveals piece by piece what happened on that cataclysmic evening until the horrific truth is revealed.

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

To further demonstrate Morton’s genius, throughout this story of loss she also weaves a thread of peacefulness and love and belonging. In the end my heart ached at what was and what could have been.

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

The Clockmaker's Daughter
An old house, an old sketch book, an old murder, an old photograph, and a lot of mysteries. Who doesn’t love all of those?

THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER has it all.

THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER goes back and forth in time looking for clues to connect Elodie’s present-day questions and findings to the time when her mother was alive and how a country manor and other mysteries seem to have a connection to her mother. She KNOWS there is some connection with everything she finds circling around Birchwood Manor.

Ms. Morton definitely makes you “work” for the clues. Her writing is beautiful as always, but the story line was difficult to follow.

Each chapter began without the identification of the person talking so the reader has to figure out who has appeared on the scene now.

I always enjoy Ms. Morton's books because of the gothic atmosphere and marvelous connection between the characters and the story line, but THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER had me confused most of the time. Finding the connections was similar to solving a difficult math problem.

Once the chapter got started and you became interested in the story line, it was over and another thought and character appeared.

I can't say I didn't like the book. THE CLOCKMAKER’S DAUGHTER had a skillfully constructed story line, but it wasn't an easy read.

Once you were connected, though, it all started to come together in her marvelous Kate Morton style with a brilliant ending.

I LOVE her books, her beautiful writing, and her involved story lines so I kept reading because I wanted to find out how it all fit together and what the ending would reveal. The revelations were marvelous as always.

Anyone who loves Kate Morton, who likes to unravel a book's story line, and who can wait until it all comes together will not want to miss reading THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER. 4/5

This book was given to me as an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Cloggie Downunder

Classic Kate Morton.
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.

Roberta

Huge disappointment
I love Kate Morton's books and was so excited to start reading this one. It was a disappointment. It was disjointed and hard to follow. Every time I thought it would pick up and get "mysterious", it failed to deliver. I will, however, read Morton's next book as she is a good writer. Hopefully this book was just a one-off.

Katie

Sigh
How I was thrilled to have a Kate Mirton to enjoy. Knowing her masterful weaving of characters and plots, I was excited to follow her breadcrumbs to an unexpected, but absolutely correct ending. I read, and I read....and, I read, telling myself she would start to weave her magic soon. I often referred to previous chapters, to try to keep the characters straight. This, sadly, continued far beyond my ability to keep the players on their correct places. Never did the magic happen, as I read....it just trudged on, with my constant muddling through the now massive number of characters. Kate's wordsmithing maintained as crisp and unique as ever, but the tapestry, imo, never came together. By the end, I was tired, disappointed, and felt the culmination of this gargantuan cast was too simple and too rushed. I truly missed the Kate of old.

Elaine

Clockmaker's Daughter
Many good turns of phrase but confusing because of lack of time and place indicators in parts. Needed to make notes! Conclusion rushed and did not resolve all aspects or characters. Not a good read, more like research for a thesis.

...1 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Kate Morton Author Biography

Kate Morton is the eldest of three sisters. She was born in South Australia and moved with her family numerous times before settling, finally, on Tamborine Mountain. There she attended a tiny country school and spent much of her childhood inventing and playing games of make-believe with her sisters.

Kate fell avidly in love with books very early. Her favorites were those by Enid Blyton, and Kate escaped many times up the Faraway Tree or with the Famous Five into smugglers' cove. It was a love deeply felt, for it is still mysteries and secrets that dance around the edges of Kate's mind, keeping her awake deep into the night, turning or typing pages.

When she finished school, Kate studied and earned a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. After an ill-fated ...

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