Summary and book reviews of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

by Natasha Pulley

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley X
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2015, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright
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About this Book

Book Summary

A sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond.

1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

part one

The home office telegraphy department always smelled of tea. The source was one packet of Lipton's at the back of Nathaniel Steepleton's desk drawer. Before the widespread use of the electric telegraph, the office had been a broom cupboard. Thaniel had heard more than once that its failure to expand was a sign of the Home Secretary's continuing mistrust of naval inventions, but even if that wasn't the case, the departmental budget had never stretched to the replacement of the original carpet, which liked to keep the ghosts of old smells. Besides Thaniel's modern tea, there was cleaning salt and hessian, and sometimes varnish, though nobody had varnished anything there for years. Now, instead of brooms and brushes, there were twelve telegraphs lined up on a long desk. Three to an operator during the day, each wired to separate places within and without Whitehall, and labelled accordingly in the thin handwriting of a forgotten clerk. Tonight all twelve ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The novel switches between years and moments in history from London in the 1880s to Japan in the 1870s. What effect does this shift in location and time have on the reader? To what extent does it produce a globalist vision of history?
  2. Nationalism takes several forms in this novel, yet these forms are similar in many ways. Consider the different instances of nationalism, particularly those of the Irish and of the Japanese. How do these views differ? Does the novel offer sympathy or skepticism for their projects?
  3. "All the same, [Thaniel] had a feeling that life should not have been about ten candles and two baths a week." Discuss Thaniel's life before and after his meeting with Mori. What has changed, if anything? Argue either for ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

My only complaint is that about two-thirds of the way through, the story loses track of the bomb threat plot for a while, focusing instead on the complicated relationship between the three central characters, Thanial, Grace and Mori. But this is easily forgiven when the threat resurfaces near the end resulting in a page-turning high stakes race that rewards the reader with a very satisfying conclusion. I would highly recommend this entertaining story to all fans of speculative historical fiction, to fans of Steampunk and anyone looking for a darn good read. Older teens will also enjoy this engaging novel...continued

Full Review (740 words).

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(Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

Media Reviews

Irish Tatler
A unique blend of historical fiction and magical realism about the inextricable relationships between three people, a watch with magical powers and a clockwork octopus. This is ideal escapist holiday reading, your imagination will run riot.

Booklist
Pulley's imaginative first novel transports readers to a Victorian London teeming with danger and magic... [She] mixes steampunk and intrigue with paranormal elements in this wholly original debut.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Electrifying... a triumph of speculative fiction... Pulley expertly employs the tools of mystery and fantasy to examine the social pressures faced by the marginalized.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Clever and engaging, this impressive first novel will reward both casual readers looking for a fun period adventure and those fascinated by the tension between free will and fate.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Chromesthesia

Synesthesia, which manifests in many different forms, is a condition where two or more senses intertwine. For example, Thanial, one of the main characters in The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street, "sees" music. For him, notes, voices and other sounds are perceived as specific colors. He has chromesthesia, a form of synesthesia where a person associates a sensation (usually hearing) with color.

While the concept of synesthesia has been recorded since at least the early nineteenth century, it was only in the 1980s that research into the phenomenon really started to take off and since the '90s has been the subject of research papers and novels. While scientists are still uncertain about the exact mechanisms of synesthesia, many believe that it'...

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