It’s no secret that Kate Morton is one of Australia’s greatest literary treasures, and, with over 11 million copies of her novels sold worldwide, our highest-selling international author. It’s not much of a surprise then to discover that her latest, much anticipated release, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, is another triumph, captivating from start to finish.
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists, led by the ever-talented Edward Radcliffe, descend upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames with one single, innocent agenda – to spend a secluded summer month creating beautiful art inspired by nature. But the manor holds dark secrets, and as summer draws to a close, so too does the life of a woman who is shot dead. It’s a very suspicious death, made all the more sinister for the disappearance of another woman who seems to have taken a precious family heirloom…
One-hundred and fifty years later, we meet Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London who has uncovered a leather satchel containing two seemingly incongruous items – a sepia-tone photograph of a striking young woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook. The sketches showcase details of Birchwood Manor. She’s never seen it before, yet strangely, she feels a familiarity when looking at the sketches, an inexplicable connection. Who is the woman? Does she hold the key to the puzzle?
Through multiple narrators we learn of the Manor’s history, its secrets and the secrets of those who have lived there. Unbeknownst to Elodie, uncovering the satchel also gives life to the voice of long forgotten Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is masterfully constructed. It is no small feat to write a novel of such density, with such a diverse array of characters, spanning multiple historical periods. Not only has Kate Morton done that, she’s done it with panache.
Part of the novel’s allure is the way in which it transports you through time. Kate has always had a talent for the historical – she describes time and place in great, visceral detail. Jumping between time periods the reader feels almost like a pendulum, swaying to a fro, while always supported by Kate’s steady voice, her fine attention to story, place, and character.
Of significant note is Birchwood Manor. In Kate’s writing we often see a fascination with setting, an innate ability to breathe life and meaning into buildings, and the bricks and mortar in The Clockmaker’s Daughter is no exception. This building, Birchwood Manor, becomes a metaphor throughout the novel, a symbol for the secrets we keep and the darkness that this propagates.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a stunning tale of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. We can’t recommend it highly enough.
About the author:
KATE 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 husband and three young sons in London and Australia. The Shifting Fog, published internationally as 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.