Publication date: October 2018
Review, short version: Four skunks out of four.
Review, long version:
It’s disappointing to reach the end of a book and know I’ve wasted my time.
It’s hugely disappointing to reach the end of an almost-500-page book and know I’ve wasted my time.
That’s how I feel about Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter.
My modus operandi is to give a book 30-40 pages and if I’m not caught up in it – I move on to a different book.
And apparently I was caught up enough in The Clockmaker’s Daughter to stay with it and get my questions answered:
- Does the Radcliffe Blue exist and if so, where is it?
- Will Elodie ever discover her connection to the sketchbook and the mysterious woman in the photograph?
- Is Birdie/Lily/Mystery Real Name a thief or is it Lucy or Leonard or Juliet or Jack or Martin or Mrs. Mack or Edward or James or Ada or Thurston or Frances or, or, or?
As you can see from #3, along the way I encountered way too many people. And too many storylines, and too many timed periods. For the latter, the book jumps around in at least six: 1862, 2017, 1899, 1928, 1882 and 1992.
I could have used a flow chart to keep track of who was doing what to or with whom and where and when and why.
In the Author’s Note, Morton says the book is:
“About time and timelessness, truth and beauty, maps and mapmaking, photography, natural history, the restorative properties of walking, brotherhood, houses and the notion of home, rivers and the power of place, among other things. It was inspired by art and artists, including the English romantic poets, the Pre-Raphaelite painters, early photographers…and designers…”
I think Morton had a list of “My Favorite Things” and decided to throw them all into one book. What she ended up with was too much of too many people going too many directions and ultimately failing to, as she put it, “…to tell cohesive stories about the disjointed past.”
And plenty of Amazon reviewers agreed with me – check out these headlines:
And yes, there were many more positive reviews – the book’s overall rating was 3.5 out of 5 stars.
But it’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only one who was baffled, befuddled and bummed out.