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The Clockmaker’s Daughter Book Review

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. After reading though, I wanted to do a full book review of The Clockmaker’s Daughter to explain my thoughts.

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The Clockmaker’s Daughter Book Summary

The brief summary of The Clockmaker’s Daughter from Book Of The Month 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.”

In more detail, this novel begins with an introduction to a group of young men and women who arrive at Birchwood Manor in the summer of 1862. They have grand plans to spend the month there in a creative fog and return to their lives with new inspiration. However, at the end of the month one women is killed and another is missing.

In present day London, Elodie discovers an antique satchel with a mysterious photograph and a drawing of a beautiful country house. She searches for the connection between the items and ultimately discovers what really happened to the youthful gathering so many years ago.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter Book Review

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.

What did you think of The Clockmaker’s Daughter? 

The Clockmaker's Daughter Book Cover The Clockmaker's Daughter
Kate Morton
Atria Books
October 9, 2018
485

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?

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan @ The Hungry Bookworm
    October 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Lovely review. I actually put this down thinking I’d never read another Kate Morton again (this was my first) – it was fine but not as spectacular as I expected. Do you have any suggestions if I wanted to give her another try? Any favorites?

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      October 4, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Oh you must give her another try!! The House at Riverton and the Secret Keeper are my two favorites of hers. I’m just pretending this new one doesn’t exist since the rest of her collection is fantastic.

  • Reply
    Angela
    October 4, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Oh, this is so disappointing to hear! I LOVE Kate Morton, but this is now the second poor review I’ve read for The Clockmaker’s Daughter from a trusted reviewer. I’ll get my copy next week, but now I don’t know if I’m as excited for it.

  • Reply
    Aryn
    October 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    This makes me so sad. I’m still going to give it a whirl (since I’ve already pre-ordered it!), but your review isn’t the first unfavorable one I’ve read. I, too, love her other books, and I feel like you always know what to expect when you pick up a story of hers.

    I’m a huge Susanna Kearsley fan, but her latest left me unimpressed as well. I didn’t finish it, so I’ll certainly try again, but I just wasn’t immediately pulled in like I usually am.

  • Reply
    Kristin
    October 4, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Oh that’s disappointing! I’m willing to try any of her books because she’s good at what she does, but I’ll move this to the back of my list for now.

  • Reply
    Jill Hoke
    December 15, 2018 at 8:58 am

    I was disappointed too. I switched to audio about 2\3 thru and enjoyed it a lot more. The narrator is excellent.

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      December 18, 2018 at 11:04 am

      That’s an interesting point – I never thought to try it on audio. Amazing how some books come across completely different that way.

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