Monday, October 29, 2018

Newest Kate Morton Saga Not Quite Up to Snuff

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"It occurs to me that this house is like that, too.  It remembers, just as I do.  It remembers everything."

When London archivist Elodie Winslow discovers an old leather satchel at work, she thinks little of it.  Until she finds two remarkable items within.  She's intrigued by the old photo of an arresting woman wearing Victorian-era clothes, but she's completely mesmerized by an artist's sketch of a riverside country manor that appears to be straight out of a storybook.  Although Elodie's never actually seen such a place, she's intimately familiar with the twin-gabled home nestled in a bend of the river.  Somehow, the artist has drawn the exact place where Elodie's mother set all the fanciful bedtime stories with which she enchanted her young daughter.   

As Elodie peers into the past in search of answers, she discovers that Birchwood Manor is, indeed, a real place.  Built in the 1500s, it's been an artists' retreat, a boarding school for girls, even a refuge for children fleeing London during World War II.  Its residents have experienced every emotion—grief, joy, fear, comfort, triumph, and tragedy.  The estate houses ghosts and the key to solving at least one mystery.  When Elodie learns of the mysterious events of 1862, when one woman was shot to death and another went missing from a summer artists' getaway, she knows she won't be able to rest until she finds out what really happened.  She hopes her search for the truth will reveal the answer to the most unsettling question of all—What does Elodie's mother have to do with the many sorrows of Birchwood Manor? 

It's no secret that I'm a raving Kate Morton fan.  I adore her eloquent, atmospheric dual-timeline novels featuring crumbling mansions, mysterious heirlooms, and juicy family secrets.  I've read—and loved—all of her books.  Since they only come out every 2-3 years, I wait with bated breath for new sagas from this talented Australian author.  So, to say I was excited for the emergence of The Clockmaker's Daughter would be a vast understatement.  Did Morton's newest live up to my (admittedly very high) expectations?  No, actually.  While I liked it overall, it's my least favorite of the author's books.  Why?  The story had a little different format from Morton's others, which left it feeling overly long, unfocused, and dull in places.  I loved learning about Birchwood Manor's long history, but with so many characters over so much time, I got a tad lost.  So, while I found the mystery at the novel's center compelling, the plot felt a bit loosey-goosey and a little confusing.  On the whole, I still enjoyed The Clockmaker's Daughter—just not nearly as much as I've loved all Morton's others.  


Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Clockmaker's Daughter from the generous folks at Simon & Schuster via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. I've heard other bloggers say that while they liked this one, it's their least favorite Morton novel, too.

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  2. I have heard this same type of review from so many others too. I still haven't read a Kate Morton book but I won't start here!

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  3. Well that’s too bad. I guess every author has a dud now and again.

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  4. I recently finished listening to this one on audio - over 22 hours. I've read that many fans of Morton were not as happy with this book and I do concede that it took the reader back and forth in time and that there were a lot of characters. However, for me, it worked very well. I'm never sure why a book sometimes just 'works'. In any case, my thoughts will be up in a couple of weeks. I loved the narrator (though I've also loved the previous narrator), Joanne Froggatt. She was on Downton Abbey and her voice was great and familiar.

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  5. Seems like most bloggers are saying the same thing about this latest novel by Morton. I think I will read her backlist instead as I've missed some.

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  6. It is so frustrating to love all the books by an author only to be disappointed by the latest.

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