Morton, Kate "The Clockmaker's Daughter" - 2018
When picking up my "Watergate" book ("All the President's Men" by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward) from the library, I stumbled across this book by Australian author Kate Morton. The title sounded inviting and the cover looked fascinating, so I borrowed it.
What an interesting book. We go through almost two centuries of life in a house that seems "enchanted". We meet its inhabitants throughout the ages, live through two world wars. There is a link between them all, the storyteller, the clockmaker's daughter herself, even though the people seem to have no connection. But the house does it all. I would love to see it. Must be breathtaking.
I loved how the stories of all those characters were told side by side and more and more parts of the mystery unfolded over time. Brilliant style.
I really liked this book and would love to read more by this author.
From the back cover:
"My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.
More than one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the mysterious, unidentified woman in the photograph? As Elodie pursues these clues, the lives of the many people who have passed through the house are revealed. There is Radcliffe, whose love affair with his model and muse consumes him; his sister Lucy, who opens a school for young ladies; Leonard Gilbert, a soldier and scholar who retreats to Birchwood after World War I to heal and to write a biography of Radcliffe; Juliet, a young widow who takes refuge there with her three small children during the Blitz; and, in the present day, Jack Rolands, who has come from far away to search for lost treasure and who meets Elodie when she eventually arrives at the house.
Intricately layered and told by multiple voices across time, this is a kaleidoscopic story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter."