12 September 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

RRP $32.99 AUD
Published 12 September 2018
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

The Clockmaker's Daughter is the hotly anticipated historical fiction novel from Kate Morton published today. Told from multiple character view points and unfolding across several time periods, this was quite an ambitious and unexpectedly complex novel.

Despite the magical and evocative writing style that I love, the novel contained more than 20 main characters and I often found it tough to keep all of the characters - and their relationships to each other - straight in my mind. Added to that, the narrative jumped forwards and backwards in time from the point of view of multiple characters and I often felt the story was disjointed as a result.

I enjoyed the writing and setting more than the overarching storyline and would have preferred a tightening up of the novel to make it easier for the average reader to follow. Chapter headings telling us who was narrating would have been a terrific start, although there was a certain mystique to the voice of Birdie. 

At 582 pages, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a hefty read and I definitely recommend reading it monogamously with as few breaks as possible. I always read multiple books simultaneously, and just one or two days between reading sessions in this case meant that I easily lost track of which narrator I was with and where I was in the timeframe.

Having said all of that, the mystery in
The Clockmaker's Daughter was marvellous and I'll never tire of Kate Morton's writing style. Her novels always contain secrets, the mysteries of time and the effect lives lived have on a place. My favourite character was in fact Birchwood Manor on the river Thames. It was described so well and formed the perfect anchor in the story to unite the characters.

If this were any other author, I'd be giving this novel 3 stars or below, but I have to admit the sheer joy of holding a chunky new novel by one of my favourite Australian authors in Kate Morton significantly added to my reading enjoyment and made up for the moments I felt lost in her web of stories.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!

Would you like to comment?

  1. I am seeing a definite thread through many reviews about the amount of characters and perspectives. While this was one of the things I loved most about it, that sense of a collection of stories within one overall story, I did read this exclusively and on account of not feeling well over that particular weekend, I barely put it down, so I suppose I didn't have that sense of returning to it after a break and needing to get my head back into it. But I also really like novels that aren't all that straight forward, particularly historical fiction, so this one seemed to suit me perfectly. Have you read Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth? The scope and connectivity between different eras and characters was reminiscent for me here. Both superb authors.

  2. Wait... do you rate out of four stars? I'm about 80% through this book now, and I'm enjoying the writing very much, but sometimes I get confused. I rate out of five stars and I have my doubts that it will get a full five from me, either.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Theresa. Perhaps if I'd read it in back-to-back reading sessions over a shorter period of time I might have found it a lot easier to keep track of everything. And yes, I l-o-v-e Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, it's my favourite book of hers. The Forgotten Garden is my favourite book by Kate Morton.

    Thanks for your comment too Davida, and yes I rate my books out of 5 stars. I love Kate Morton's novels so it pained me to give this just 3 out of 5 stars, but it was just too ambitious in my opinion.

  4. I've just started the audiobook of this. Too early to see where I sit on the spectrum between it was okay and loved it!

  5. Hi Marg, what's the audiobook like? Is it read by the author? (Now THAT would be awesome). I'll be interested to hear how your reading experience goes listening to the audio version.

  6. It's good so far. It's read by Joanna Froggatt who is the actress who played Miss Bates in Downton Abbey. I'm not sure how I feel about her voice yet.

  7. Marg, I had heard she was the narrator and wondered about it. She has a distinctive voice but is such a good actress. Will be interested to hear your overall feelings at the end.

  8. I love Joanna Froggatt Marg, and had no idea she narrated audio books, how exciting. I agree Theresa, she's a spectacular actress, just love her in Downton Abbey.

  9. I am a bit more than half way through and needed to read some reviews as I am finding this to be a tough slog. I love Morton’s other books and thought maybe it was I, maybe just not in the right place to read this right now. I have ceased to care about the characters other than Elodie, as I barely get to know them before they jump away. My head aches, I am confused, wait, did I see a light in the window?

  10. Oh Joan, sorry you're finding this a slog. I found it difficult at times, but the idea of setting it aside felt worse than continuing so hopefully you'll stick with it or come back to it another time. If you do come back to it later though, you might not remember what was going on. I did see a light in the window a few times though, that was exciting. Loved the house!


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!