Sunday 17 May 2020

Kate Morton Continues to Prove Why She is One of My Favourite Authors in "The Clockmaker's Daughter"

Title: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: Kate Morton
Publication Date: September 28th, 2018
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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?


I honestly believe that a reading experience can be greatly affected by the mood you're in or intentions you have whilst reading, which is to say that sometimes it's not fair to judge a book if I am never in a great mood while reading it or didn't feel like reading but forced myself to. I say this because for the first third maybe, or even half of this read, I wasn't in a terrible reading slump and was not enjoying any of the things that usually made me happy. I felt like I needed to read because if I didn't I was letting myself down and because of this, it caused me to read The Clockmaker's Daughter begrudgingly and very slowly. At first I put this down to the plot not being able to grab my attention and the pacing slow. There was a lot of jumping to and from different time periods and the voices and tense would change, causing me to become frustrated in the inability to understand what I was reading. So I put it down, for a very long time. 

To my surprise, I came back to The Clockmaker's Daughter after a few months and became completely enthralled. I was absolutely captivated by Morton's writing and the story that was unfolding in front of me. I couldn't believe I had doubted her storytelling ability, as there hasn't been one read from Morton I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. Whilst I plodded through the first half of the book, the second book I whizzed through before realising I had already reached the end. The characters began to jump out at me, with their voices drawing me in emotionally and compelling me to stay with them as each of them went through their own personal journeys, ultimately arriving at a somewhat destination, both literally and figuratively. I was also shocked at how much I still retained whilst I continued to read, which meant that even if I felt like I wasn't understanding, Morton still left quite an impression on me through her thorough and vivid writing. 

In fact, the beauty about Kate Morton's books lies in her incredible storytelling. She is able to devise a complex plot, spanning across many years and generations, involving many characters (although not always known to each other) and be able to tie it all together at the end with a flourish. If you ever need a reason to read anything from Morton, it's the shocking endings she drops on you, with absolutely no warning. There is simply no way to deduce what is to come, unless you're a psychic. When I read the plot twist to The Clockmaker's Daughter I realised just how wrong I was in judging the book the way I had previously. It was an immense shock and I immediately put the book down because I didn't want to believe that was had happened in the past. However, as much as I didn't like the revelation, it was more because I found it to be too heartbreaking and was only hoping for a somewhat happier plot progression, not because of Morton's writing and plot. If anything the truth behind the mystery was a lot more impactful, serving to emphasise the importance of not being judgemental and how there are always two sides to a story. Also, that humans are complex. We are a bundle of emotions that can really drive our way of thinking and behaviours, and whilst we may not act in a certain way, the ability to empathise/sympathise would do us a lot better than we think. I also liked the exploration of staying true to one self, how strong our desires can be and that we may not always have control over the situation we're in but rather control on how we react to those situations. 

Again, I can't believe I would doubt one of my favourite authors. Morton has managed, as always, to deliver a beautiful, thought-provoking and genius read that remains as memorable as her other reads.

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