Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Clockmaker's Daughter

Book: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: Kate Morton

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?-Goodreads

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter is a very descriptive (beautifully at times) novel that follows several characters and their relationships with Birchwood Manor, a house in the English countryside. There were so many different narrators it was difficult at times to keep everyone straight. I'll attempt a summary here with general timelines:

*Early/mid 1800's: Young Birdie and her father 
*Early/mid 1800's: Birdie/Lily rebirth and life with her 'adoptive' mother
*Mid 1800's: Lily modeling for Edward Radcliffe
*Mid 1800's: Birchwood Manor tragedy resulting in Edward's fiance's death and Lily's disapperance
*Mid 1800's-early 1900's: Lucy Radcliffe's, Edward's sister point of view
*Early 1900's: Ada living at Birchwood Manor 
*Mid 1900's: Juliet and her children living at Birchwood Manor after/during the war
*Present Day: Elodie, an archivist who finds a satchel with a photograph she obsesses over and sketches by Edward Radcliffe
*Last but not least, a ghost residing at Birchwood Manor

Told in alternating narratives and timelines, just when a storyline got interesting we were swept away into someone else's narrative. I really loved all of the Birdie, Lily and Ada sections. Way too much time was devoted to Elodie, who was written as such a boring character with no backbone. Ultimately, when we finally find out what happened that one tragic summer at Birchwood Manor, everything seemed really rushed. This was a 17+ hour audio book and the events at the Manor are maybe 20min. I am happy that we, the readers, know what happened but there was a distinct lack of closure for so many characters. 

This wasn't bad per say, I did enjoy certain sections but I think a good editor could have trimmed this significantly.  The first 25% of the book (not sure on the exact percentage but it felt like 25%) is focused on Elodie and it was a struggle to get through it. There are only so many descriptions and feelings one photograph can elicit and yet they were described so many times. Way too much time was dedicated to her mother and Elodie's wedding. 

My favorite part of the book? Discovering who 'Pale Joe' turned into. 

Grade: 2.5/5

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