The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said that it was haunted. It wasn't, not then, but it's a dull man who lets truth stand in the way of a good story, and Edward was never that. His passion, his blinding faith in whatever he professed, was one of the things I fell in love with. He had the preacher's zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusiasms they hadn't known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.
But Edward was no preacher.
I remember him. I remember everything.
Ah, I was so happy to see a new book by Kate Morton. I haven't read all her books, but I've read maybe 3 of them. Loved all the ones I've sampled. I listened to this one on audio and it's a long book - 22+ hours - narrated by Joanne Froggatt. Joanne played Anna Bates on Downton Abbey and so her voice was familiar and lovely. She did a good job.
As I said, this is a long book and it's set across many, many years. Morton does take the story back and forth and there are certainly characters upon characters. I know that many have not been as pleased with it as they hoped. I've read several reviews where the readers thought there was too much going on, too many people, too much time change, confusing. And I do understand that. Honestly, for me, it was wonderful. I wasn't in a hurry as I listened to it. Other than having to pay close attention to the character names and keep up with where we were, I loved it all over the place. So very Gothic - that house, Birchwood Manor - fairies and spirits, secrets and hiding places, art thieves, murder, beautiful music and a lovely setting. It all ties together in the end. I was most pleased. If you've read this, tell what you experienced - good or bad.
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.
Over 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 beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a 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.