For my fellow Book of the Month subscribers, you’ll notice that Kate Morton’s latest, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, is one of October’s selections. A few months ago, I received an advance copy of the book after essentially begging the publisher to read it! I am a massive Kate Morton fan and I knew without a doubt that I’d gobble up her newest novel.
The brief summary from BOTM states “A satchel, a sketchbook, and a photograph connect the lives of a present-day archivist and a mysterious Victorian woman in this sweeping tale told across a century.”
Sadly, as these stories sometimes go, The Clockmaker’s Daughter didn’t even come close to my expectations. Morton is known for engaging writing, building suspense, and weaving intricate tales that connect generations. I’m often left breathless, moved, and absolutely blown away by her characters and the connections between them. I knew things weren’t going well when I kept putting down this book in favor of others. However, sometimes you’ll find a slow start as Morton builds the background story, so I kept going.
As character after character is introduced, it became harder and harder to keep track of everyone and understand how they fit into the narrative. Their stories, while intriguing, felt scattered and unrelated. Plus, the sheer number of time periods and individuals meant each one only gets snippets of attention. Jumping back and forth across history is usually an aspect I love most about Morton’s work, but in this instance it was too much. I was left wanting more from each story, which is ironic considering it felt like it took AGES to read this one.
The book focuses on Birchwood Manor, a country house that seems to be a magical place of safety and security. However, after a young woman is murdered and a family jewel is lost, we spend the entire book waiting for the big reveal about what actually happened that day. Unfortunately, the reveal is rather unimpressive and the circumstances surrounding the murder of the girl and death of another character don’t quite add up. After an enormous buildup, there are still a few important points left unexplained.
Do yourself a favor and go read literally any of Morton’s other novels because they’re all wonderful. The Clockmaker’s Daughter just doesn’t quite meet her usual standards.