The Clockmaker’s Daughter [Book Review]

October 26, 2018

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton (cover) Image: a close up picture of a clock face with roman numerals...title and author printed above and below the hands

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Supernatural

My Summary:

Told in present and past timelines and from multiple perspectives,  The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a multilayered story with a mystery to unravel. In the present day, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel which contains a mysterious sketchbook and an old photo. Elodie is curious about the drawing of the twin-gabled house situated on the bend of the river thinking that it resembles the house from a favorite fairy tale she heard from her mother, and she’s drawn to the beautiful and mysterious Victorian woman pictured in the photo. As Elodie proceeds to investigate the items, a voice that stands outside of time transports readers to the 1860s and the life-changing event that happens in the summer of 1862.  During that summer, artists meet at the twin-gabled house on the Thames, known as Birchwood Manor, to relax and inspire their art and creativity. Instead, they experience the unpleasant circumstances of a murder, a missing person, and a stolen family heirloom. Her name has been forgotten by history, but Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter, watched it all unfold.

Amazon Early Rating (October): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:


Sometimes reviews are difficult to write and this is one of those times. I think part of what affects a read is the expectation the reader brings to the experience. This is one of my most anticipated reads of the fall, and I wrestled more than usual with my star rating.

First, Kate Morton is an “auto buy” author for me…..I’ve enjoyed her previous work and, without too much deliberation, I trust the next title will be an engaging and meaningful read. In other words, I automatically request her next title from the library or buy it on Kindle without pouring over reviews. That being said, I find that The Clockmaker’s Daughter is not my favorite of her work (other reviewers’ opinions differ!). However, if you’re like me and a devoted Kate Morton fan, I urge you to give this a try. It was an OK read for me….unique and interesting…..however, it most likely won’t make it to my best of the year list.

Writing. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is well written, ambitious in scope, skillfully constructed, atmospheric in a Gothic way, and establishes an amazing sense of place with exquisite period and setting details. Kate Morton is a masterful story teller. I can easily see this as a movie!

Plot. I love a challenging, complex story line and The Clockmaker’s Daughter doesn’t disappoint! The concern for me is that the author devotes at least 60% of the book to developing the back stories of multiple characters. I didn’t have a great deal of difficulty tracking them, except the one that was introduced at the 50% mark was difficult to orient (but by then I was growing weary of getting to know new characters and was eager to see how the mystery would unfold). Readers may want to know that the plot includes supernatural elements. A bit more action in the plot would have boosted my star rating.

Characters. Kate Morton characters are interesting and well drawn.  A majority of the book is devoted to the past timeline. This falls under personal preference, but I would have liked a bit more time spent on present day characters. For a while in the middle of the book, I feared that the author had forgotten about them.

Length and Complexity. At almost 500 pages in length, it takes time for this story to unfold. The author requires the reader to work for the clues that tie the story line together, so in that sense it’s not an easy read. In addition, it takes some concentration to connect the characters from different time periods. I’m a reader who enjoys this type of challenge, but for me the reading started to feel a bit like a task and I was tempted frequently to check my percentage completed at the bottom of my Kindle page.

Themes. Important themes include time, abandoned children, love and loss, family history, and art. I appreciated Morton’s references to time throughout the story. It’s a creative and thoughtful thread that weaves the various storylines together with the title.

Recommended. Devoted fans of Kate Morton’s will want to have this newest release on a TBR list. Readers who love supernatural elements in their stories will enjoy this aspect of the reading (I’m not a huge fan of supernatural). Of course, there’s also a great deal to appreciate from a historical fiction perspective. Book clubs and readers participating in “buddy reads” may appreciate the discussion possibilities in this story. Overall, this is an interesting and unique story and a solid read (although a bit long). Other reviewers have raved about The Clockmaker’s Daughter, so check out some other opinions!

My Rating: 4 Stars


Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker’s Daughter Information Here

Meet the Author, Kate Morton

kate-morton.jpgKate Morton was born in South Australia and grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature and lives now with her family in London and Australia. Kate Morton has sold over 11 million copies of her novels in thirty-four languages, across forty countries. The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House have all been number one bestsellers around the world. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is her sixth novel.


Are you a Kate Morton fan?
Have you read The Clockmaker’s Daughter or is it on your TBR?
What is your favorite Kate Morton book?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

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~Rainer Maria Rilke

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Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!

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  1. I’m a huge Morton fan! This one was definitely a bit long, and it took a while to engage me, but it was lovely once it did. Terrific review, Carol! I’ll be looking forward to your next two reviews, too! Happy reading!

  2. I agree, this probably wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I liked it way more than the early reviews would have led me to believe! I, too, wanted more action. I thought the payoff came a little late.

    • Yes to your thoughts! Mainly I thought it was too long. I wonder how much input editors have with popular authors! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • It’s probably my least fav of hers… main frustration is how long it took to get to the plot. 60% to intro characters was way too long!
      Sometimes titles are too obscure!

  3. As I said in your revisit of the book (which I’m glad you did because you read this before me), I really liked The Clockmaker’s Dauther. but it is the only book I read by Kate Morton and wouldn’t mind reading more by her. Any recommendations?

  4. If this had been my first Kate Morton book I’m not sure I would read another. Too long, too many characters and I didn’t feel like the ending pulled everything together.

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