The Clockmaker’s Daughter has been near the top of my TBR pile since the day it was published. I was fortunate to meet the author, Kate Morton, on the her book’s birthday, and just her alone was enough to make me a fan….
which is why I’m a little sad to write this review. Let me explain.
While sorting through new items to catalogue for the James Stratton’s estate, Elodie found a intriguing item from the past- a satchel from the 1860s that includes a small portrait of a beautiful, unidentified woman, and a small collection of sketches that curiously illustrate the bedtime stories of her childhood. After a little research, she finds that the satchel belonged to James Stratton, but the items inside belonged to an artist named Edward Radcliffe. From there, Elodie sets out to connect how these men knew each other, how the images in the sketchbook relate to her mother’s stories, and just who the woman in the portrait is.
Meanwhile, the ghost of Birchwood Manor keeps watch over the homestead. Though she is only often visited by the living who are interested in the work of Edward Radcliffe, occasionally fellow spirits find their way to her, in search of someone who can help them move on. Though her real name isn’t spoken, her father the clockmaker used to call her Birdie. Birdie has seen many things throughout the years, and the secrets still stay with her- including the truth that Elodie desires to find.
Morton’s concept of this novel is fantastic. A lost item found, and old house with a ghost, hidden secrets that can reveal the past… it’s a historical fiction picture perfect recipe. However, I felt that something didn’t quite mix, and it left me disappointed in actuality. I thought that a lot of Birdie’s past got very convoluted within the larger scheme of things, and overshadowed much of Elodie’s story and how it connected to Birdie’s. I also thought the novel was INCREDIBLY slow. There were sections where I thought, “oh, now we are getting somewhere”, and then the pace would slow right down again. Though the writing was beautifully articulated and atmospheric, I struggled to maintain interest throughout the book and did end up speed-reading through a few chapters.
In the end, The Clockmaker’s Daughter just wasn’t for me. I think anyone who can relish the details and the slow-burn pace will really enjoy it though, so I’d still recommend the read. I’m anxious to read a few other novels I’ve picked up by Morton, as I’ve heard so many great comments and recommendations from her fans. I’ll keep you all posted when I do, as always!