The Clockmaker’s Daughter
the publication of her first novel, The Lake House (2016), Kate Morton has consistently provided her readers
with complex characters, clearly defined interlocking plot lines, and denouements that, while delving deeply into human relationships,
neatly tie up loose ends, providing satisfying closure. However, unfortunately, with her latest novel, The Clockmaker's Daughter, she has, unfortunately, deviated from these high standards.
this, Morton’s sixth literary endeavor, starts out as a captivating read, building up momentum with chapters alternating
between the past and present, it starts to unravel three-quarters of the way through. In the last quarter, promising a sustaining
ending, plot threads are tattered and left unresolved; characters are left dangling in the midst (mists) of their fictional
lives. Except for redundant explanations of the final fate of Lily Millington, one of the main protagonists, the reader is
left bereft of complete closure.
In the beginning, in September 2017. Elodie Winslow,
an archivist for the nebulous London-based Stratton & Caldwell, Co, stumbles across a leather satchel owned by a mid-Nineteenth
Century artist, Edward Radcliffe. She is drawn to the familiarity of his detailed sketch in his notebook of a two-gabled house
in the Berkshires; a house she has envisaged hearing her mother, now deceased, tell her about. Elodie is distracted from her
wedding plans, seeking to learn more about the house and the virtually unknown artist. A conceit that draws us into the crux
of Morton’s novel as Elodie sets out to learn about Radcliffe’s life, his work, his friends, and his relationship
with Lily – a daughter of a clockmaker – who speaks to us of her own life (“thrice born”) and love
in interspacing chapters.
Morton, a native Australian now living in England,
delightfully crafts an intriguingly rambling story. Intense in its complexities, ripe with deftly drawn true-to-life characters,
sparkling with scenic descriptions and historical references and adorned with relationship nuances. It is, indeed, a veritable
book nerd’s mouthwatering smorgasbord. However, it is this overmanaged manage of complexity, with its ambitious attempt
to captivate, that is the author’s failure to live up to the reader’s expectations. Simply put: there are one
too many characters and two too many plot lines to follow. And, unfortunately, because of this, Morton does not adequately
and completely tie up all the loose ends that she has strung out.
a complex novel; especially those that Morton, proven by her earlier works, is more than capable of writing. I’ve avidly
enjoyed each of her previous novels and, thus, was more than eager to settle in with The Clockmaker’s Daughter.
And, yes, I was pleasantly overawed and consumed by it. Ready, as I was, to indulge in – to continue the metaphor –
its promise of tasty delights. But, as I infer here, it finally, after all is said and done, left me – as well as several
of her main characters – hanging. Wanting more. My appetite still craved answers. What ever happened to Elodie? And
Jack? And Alistair, her fiancé? Was the Radcliffe Blue ever recovered? Or did I miss the bauble in trying to decipher
the redundancy of the last seventy pages?
All in all, The Clockmaker’s
Daughter, is good read. Not a great one; certainly not as finally tuned as it should be. But, still… a decent
novel. So, if you’re in any way intrigued by ghosts, life in the 1800s, and already a fan of Kate Morton and her novels,
then, by all means… it’s worth a shot and definitely the time spent for overindulgence.
Enjoy the read!