Title: The Clockmaker’s Wife
Author: Daisy Wood
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: July 27th, 2021 (Avon)
Synopsis: The world is at war. And time is running out…
London, 1940. Britain is gripped by the terror of the Blitz, forcing Nell Spelman to flee the capital with her young daughter – leaving behind her husband, Arthur, the clockmaker who keeps Big Ben chiming.
When Arthur disappears, Nell is desperate to find him. But her search will lead her into far darker places than she ever imagined…
New York, Present Day. When Ellie discovers a beautiful watch that had once belonged to a grandmother she never knew, she becomes determined to find out what happened to her. But as she pieces together the fragments of her grandmother’s life, she begins to wonder if the past is better left forgotten…
Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins Canada for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Eleanor Spelman flees London with her young daughter Alice for the countryside to escape the Blitz in 1940. Her husband, Arthur, who is one of the clockmakers who keep Big Ben working, remains behind. When Nell receives a panicked phone call from Arthur saying that he has been arrested, she rushes back to London, desperate to find out what is going on, but finds herself uncovering some dark secrets. In present day New York, Ellie finds a watch that belonged to her grandmother Nell who died during WWII and curious to find out exactly what happened, travels to London to meet her Aunt Gillian in hopes of learning more about her family history.
WWII novels have become more and more frequent on my historical fiction TBR over the past year or two, but this is the first novel I’ve read that is set in London during the Blitz, right in the thick of things. I really enjoyed reading about the landmarks in London, and learning more about the iconic Big Ben. The descriptions of the city during WWII in one timeline contrasting with present day London were interesting to read. The feel of the narration was very authentic and the story as a whole was well written, making it easy to differentiate between the two timelines at any point. The characters in the 1940s timeline were wonderfully portrayed, and despite there being so many of them, they all felt realistic and had something important to contribute to the story, be it the evacuees in Oxfordshire or the people Nell meets in London. Nell herself starts out as a character who is rather hard to like, worrying about the most ridiculous things like a stroller when bombs are falling around her. But when she hears that Arthur is in trouble, she rushes back, determined to save him, and her character arc was quite remarkable from there on, leading to an ending that the reader would not have expected for her, given how she was in the beginning of the book.
While I usually enjoy dual timeline narrations in historical fiction, this was one case it wasn’t really needed in. I felt like there weren’t any facts that could not have been worked into the WWII timeline since it does go all the way to the end of the story, giving the reader a good idea of what was going on. Additionally, the characters in present day weren’t particularly interesting either. Ellie seems extraordinarily whiny and childish for a woman in her mid 30s. For someone interested in her family history, one would think she would have done a little research before landing in the city, yet it felt like everyone else did the work for her. What Ellie mostly did was jump to conclusions and it was really annoying how she was ready to drop everything and give up at the slightest hint that her suspicions about her grandmother were true. It was also quite odd how Ellie was able to take a vacation to London during what is the peak holiday season at short notice given that it’s mentioned quite a few times that she has limited resources.
The Clockmaker’s Wife was an intriguing and well paced read, and while it takes some time for the plot to get to the more exciting pieces. I would definitely recommend this book for historical fiction fans!
The Clockmaker’s Wife releases on July 27th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!