The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
I am madly in love with Kate Morton. Hideously, wonderfully and hopelessly in love. Not only does she look like Jessica Biel (and rocks a front fringe like no other), but she is possibly the most eloquent and beautiful writer that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Every time I read one of her books I conclude that that one is my favourite.
Having said that, The Clockmaker’s Daughter? Not my favourite. The amazing cover design by Lisa White, is possibly one of my favourite book covers of all time and all I want to do is take photos of the book in various locations around the world to celebrate its beauty however, unfortunately, that is some of the only positive comments I have to say about the book (which breaks my heart).
Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors and she is one of the very few authors whose careers I watch closely so as to jump on any new releases as soon as physically possible. I await her books eagerly and up until this one, have absolutely devoured and loved each and every one of them. I love the format that her books always take – the three parallel story lines, the three periods of time, the interchanging between characters and time, and the wonderful, delicious suspense of the mystery that cloak the books. The structure of Morton’s books are what I have come to love and respect the most; the rigid anatomy of her books allow her wonderful, rich descriptive prose to roam free and settle with the reader comfortably.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter felt unedited and messy. It is a long book that didn’t need to be (at a rough guess, I think that at least 250 pages could have been cut). The structure that readers and fans alike have come to expect from Morton was nowhere to be seen. Instead of the parallel story lines and voices moving in forward together, I felt ripped and whipped from one time period to another; I found The Clockmaker’s Daughter incredibly hard to follow and was constantly rifling back through the chapters to find my place in the story once more. There were a lot of characters to keep track of which would have been easier if the chapters weren’t so scattered.
Kate Morton is an absolute genius in creating a deeply unsettling central mystery that her books work around. This was another miss for me when it comes to The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Without spoiling anything or going into much detail, the main plot was dull and the big reveal that Morton is renowned for at the climax of the end of her books? Nowhere to be seen. I finished the book and thought, “Really?” It was all I could do to not try and find hidden pages at the back of the book.
There are still some beautifully crafted sentences that immediately whisk you away to the English gardens they are describing. Morton’s language is as stunning as ever, and the presence of inquisitive, curious young women is well and truly there, but they were nowhere near as captivating. My mum has always described me as inquisitive. It has always been a defining trait of mine that I am quietly proud of and I have always been able to see little flecks of me in the characters that Morton creates. That didn’t happen this time around – it actually felt as though the characters were forced to be curious. As all Morton fans know, there is always a protagonist from the present day and I have always found that it is that character that really anchors the story because she (generally it is a female) is the most relatable to the reader. The character, Elodie, in The Clockmaker’s Daughter is far too sparse in her appearances throughout the book. The ‘present day’ character has always been the one to really bring everything together and make sense of all the little details and nooks and crannies of the story, but without her regular appearance, I was scrambling to do it all myself.
I think that with some tighter editing (or simply some editing, period) this book could have been wonderful – maybe not on par with the rest of Morton’s backlist, but still a great read. I’m really saddened that I can’t write a doting review of this book, especially with that sexy-ass cover, but Morton still holds a really special place in my heart and I have nothing but respect for the work that she has produced.
And her fringe.