THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER – Kate Morton
Oxfordshire and London, England – 1862 to 2017
This story is multi-faceted, so very hard to define. It is about the past and how it gets lost but can still affect the future. A strong theme about time and its meaning runs through the story line, which gives factual information, rumor, and superstition about an event that happened in 1862. Several stories of love and friendship and how they affect everyone evolve throughout the story.
Artist Edward Radcliffe felt compelled to purchase Birchwood Manor located on a unique bend in the Thames River, a place legend already claimed had a supernatural history. In 1862 he invited friends from his artists group, the Magenta Brotherhood, along with his sisters and some models including Lily Millington, for a month at the manor. Before the month is up, Edward's fiancée is murdered, a very valuable family heirloom is missing, and a mystery is developing. The narrator of this story is a ghost who inhabits Birchwood Manor, the clockmaker's daughter whose father nicknamed her Birdy, but she was using the pseudonym of Lily in the summer of 1862. According to the official record, she stole the artifact and escaped with the man who murdered Edward's fiancée.
As a ghost she has a perfect memory of events during and after her life. She introduces to the reader those who have stayed at the manor since her arrival, and reminisces about her life and the events that take place at Birchwood Manor throughout the years. Some of the visitors she finds interesting, and over time she learns how to influence them. Some of those visitors give narrations about their stay at the manor. People like Lucy Radcliffe, Edward's younger sister, who was with Edward that eventful summer. She inherits Birchwood Manor and turns it into a girls' school, which introduces Ada to Birdy; of course, Birdy remembers Lucy. Then Leonard Gilbert, a WWI soldier still suffering after that war's end, who finds peace at Birchwood researching about Edward and the murder that took place there. And Juliet, a journalist, who brought her three children to the safety of Birchwood after her home was bombed in London in WWII.
In 2017 Elodie Winslow works as an archivist for documents of James Stratton, a London philanthropist during the last part of the 19th century. She is also reluctantly planning her wedding to a financier who she suspects loves the music and famous reputation of her deceased mother more than her. At work she finds some strange artifacts in a closet, a photo of one of artist Edward Radcliffe's models and his drawing satchel which contains a sketch book. A drawing in the sketch book sparks a memory of a story Elodie's mother told her. She has other reasons regarding her mother to visit Birchwood, too. At Birchwood she meets Jack, supposedly staying there as an artist in residence, Birchwood Manor now under the guidance of the Art Historian's Association.
All of the people and all of the events sooner or later are connected to each other and to the ghost Birdy. THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER defies genre. It is a story with supernatural and suspense elements, a 150 year old murder mystery, a historical romance and a contemporary one. A beguiling read.