The Clockmaker’s Wife by Daisy Wood
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…
I have really been delving into historical fiction lately. It wasn’t a genre I typically gravitated to, but in the last few months I have definitely been enjoying wartime historical fiction. The Clockmaker’s Wife is historical drama and mystery all rolled into one.
So there are two sides to this story. In November 1940, Nell is living through the London Blitz when she and her infant daughter are evacuated to Oxfordshire. In November 2021, Ellie knows very little about her elderly mother, Alice’s, childhood, and even less about her grandmother who died during the blitz in London when Alice was just a baby.
Ellie embarks on a trip to London to see what she can find out about her grandmother and grandfather, Nell and Arthur Spelman. As Ellie meets estranged family members, details start to be revealed. Step by step, secrets and lies are unraveled.
This was a book I could not put down. Nell’s story is told through real time as events occur, while Ellie is retracing steps and learning more and more. And as it turns out, both Nell and Ellie have a mystery to solve. As Ellie discovers more, she becomes closer to the grandmother she had never even known. I enjoyed the way that the story unfolded, as you don’t discover what truly happened back in 1940 until the very end.
There is a bit of a love story that I didn’t love. It felt a bit forced and shoehorned in, but I did like that it gave a sense of everything coming full circle and tied it all up nicely. It was almost like the happy ending that Nell and Arthur never got to have. The love story was nice enough, I just cared more about Nell’s story than I did the added friends-to-lovers bit that we got.
There were quite a few sad moments. Nell’s daughter, Alice, had grown up unhappily, and even as an old lady she was so withdrawn and sad that it kind of broke my heart. Although Ellie and Nell were both pretty stoic characters too, so clearly just a trait that runs in the family.
Have you read any good historical fiction books lately? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of The Clockmaker’s Wife. All thoughts and opinions about The Clockmaker’s Wife are my own.