The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton was my Book of the Month pick for October. Believe me when I say I could not have made a better choice. Surprisingly creepy, The Clockmaker's Daughter was a perfect read for a chilly October night. Not so scary that you need to sleep with the lights on, but just creepy enough to make you glance over your shoulder a time or two.
Birchwood Manor is an exquisite home with an interesting history. Kate Morton brings us through love, art, heartbreak, and time to a home so connected to each character in her story that it almost seems alive. The Clockmaker's Daughter presents Birchwood over the course of nearly two centuries through the eyes of those who have been impacted by its mere existence.
The home's haunting history only intensifies when Edward Radcliffe, the love of his life, and a group of his artist friends go there for a summer in 1862. Jealousy, theft, death, and heartbreak touches the lives of each person there. After that summer, time takes its toll on everyone in the house. Some are destroyed by it. Some are propelled by it. While some end up trapped by it.
The Clockmaker's Daughter moves from past to present and back again seamlessly. Elodie Winslow, a present-day archivist, lives in London cataloging the lives and belongings of long-dead Londoners. Childhood tragedy and plans to marry a man that she may or may not love lead her on a desperate quest for knowledge. Fueled by a gut feeling and a children's bedtime story, Elodie starts on a path that will unravel Birchwood Manors biggest mystery.
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What I loved
All of it. Every single bit of it. If you want historical fiction done well, then The Clockmaker's Daughter is the book for you. It was almost too good. I ended up googling several of the main characters when I finished reading. The story felt so real that I needed to know if it was based loosely on actual people. My results were inconclusive. From London's baby farms to its high society art world, The Clockmaker's Daughter felt authentic.
Themes of life, love, inspiration, loss, and grief tie each character one to the other. Its sad without being depressing. Its creepy without being scary. At some points the story was predictable but it was never boring or disappointing. Every word, every detail, fits together like a puzzle and I cannot describe the immense satisfaction I felt when all the pieces fell into place. Your heart will ache for Elodie as you watch her internal struggle. It will downright break for characters like Edward Radcliffe, Lily Millington, and Birdie Bell.
Widows/widowers are rampant in this novel. As well as children trying to survive without one or both parents. Kate Morton presents loss in such a way that you never get tired of revisiting it, even though it is a reoccurring theme. If you learn nothing else from The Clockmaker's Daughter you'll learn that life is not fair.
What I disliked
That the story ended.
Just read it. This is one of the few books that I'm positive I will reread in the future. To say Kate Morton did a phenomenal job just doesn't feel like justice to me. If you enjoy a story that gives you a little spine tingle then you should definitely grab a copy. All of my historical fiction lovers, I wouldn't pass this one up if I was you. Read Kate Morton's The Clockmaker's Daughter and let me know what you think.