The earth was the ultimate museum, recording and presenting a narrative of time… – Kate Morton, The Clockmaker’s Daughter
From the moment this book was opened until the last page was turned, one thought kept going through my mind: Such. A. Brilliant. Book. Every time I had to stop and put the book down for my normal life routines, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was almost haunting me. Sometimes when I thought about what I read in the pages, I would have goosebumps.
I must say this though: The Clockmaker’s Daughter is not an easy read for sure. If you’re looking for a commercial fiction that is fast-paced and light, one that you may be able to finish reading at one go, this may not be for you.
However, I am not saying that it is not a page-turner. Far from it! I couldn’t get through the book fast enough because the story was absolutely compelling and the characters were extremely absorbing. Kate Morton is such a brilliant storyteller, and she weaves it all together with beautiful writing.
The synopsis from the book:
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?
When I just started reading the book, I would constantly lament at how far I was from the end. Not because reading it was such a dread, but because it meant I still had such a long way to go before I could finally know what truly happened!
There are a lot of different voices telling the story, with one main voice through it all. This book has to be read and enjoyed at a leisurely pace, or you might miss something important. I got so excited every time I traced a connection, and when I finally finished the book, the ultimate revelation left me with such a heartache! It was that impactful!
I also loved that not everything was spelt out and not every dot was connected. I guess those are the little open-ended lines left for the reader to ponder upon.
I don’t know if this book could be called a literary fiction, but it definitely delighted me in the same way Kazuo Ishiguro’s books delighted me. Every sentence was artfully strung together, the story revealed itself at a steady pace, and the characters unveiled at such a subtle way.
Many of her fans said some of her earlier books were even better, so I am looking forward to picking up The Lake House and some of the others!
Have you read any of her books before? Did you like them? Any favourites?