Notes on reading 'The Clockmaker’s Daughter' by Kate Morton
Kate Morton’s new novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, is worthy of your time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, appreciating how Morton once again blends history, mystery and romance while creating a compelling narrative. In truth, while I just finished this novel, it’s not yet finished with me – I find myself still thinking through what happened in the book, as I’m going about my day. To me, that’s a sign of a really good book.
An author’s note:
At the end of her book, Morton acknowledges that she experiences “anxiety about the number of subjects to be studied and grasped within the limits of a single lifetime,” much as her character Lucy does. I’m the same way: there’s never enough time to explore and read about all the subjects I find interesting. Morton is grateful to be a writer, since it allows her, as she explains it, “the opportunity to explore topics that fascinate me.” I’m grateful I’m a reader of this book, as it incorporates a variety of topics (and ones I find compelling) into its narrative. In part, it’s a book about time and presence, walking and remembering, and as Morton notes, about “rivers and the power of place.”
On that note:
Rivers are important in this book. Many rivers run through it, establishing place and time. At the same time, one river appears in many ways, sounding a variety of notes. The Thames flows in the city, in the countryside, and across the centuries. Sometimes it is quiet, and sometimes it roars fiercely. Always, the Thames sounds an important refrain in the lives of the individual characters.
As a side note:
The name “Lucy” means light, derived from the Latin root. It’s a meaning which merits contemplation, particularly after you finish the novel. The conclusion of the story takes place, after all, in a section on “captured light.” Because I was caught by the intertwined stories, I immediately began to reread earlier sections upon reaching the novel’s end. Doing so, the numerous mentions of light throughout the book seized my attention anew, leading me to reflect at length on this theme.
Note to self (and others):
Keep reading what Kate Morton writes. I will confess: with this novel, it took me some pages and a little patience to find my groove as a reader. Only gradually did the initial speaker become a captivating figure for me. However, I eventually felt so compelled to find out what had happened to this person that I was unwilling to stop reading, even when the hour was late. If you also find the opening pages a bit slow, keep going. You can trust in Morton’s ability to create intriguing characters, and also have faith in her dexterity with puzzle building.
I would be happy to compare notes, of course, should you read The Clockmaker’s Daughter. And if you have read Morton’s five previous novels, I’d be curious to know what you think about her work. In particular, I wonder: do you have a favorite novel by Morton? For me, The Clockmaker’s Daughter has now become Morton’s most notable novel, due in no small part to its clever narrative construction.