2 March 2022
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city's celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.
Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker's experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.
For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker's intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.
And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles...
A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.
📖 My Review...
Into the festering world of eighteenth century Paris we move from the debauched atmosphere of the brothel where Madeleine Chastel lives with her mother, sister and young nephew, into the sinister world of Dr Maximilian Reinhart, an expert clock maker, with an interest in creating automaton. Reinhart employs Madeleine, not only as a chambrière, in his house where shadows lurk in every dark corner, but also as a femme de chambre to his seventeen year old daughter, Véronique.
The story moves seamlessly between the mean and moody streets of Paris where children seem to be vanishing into the ether, to the decadent luxury of the French court of Louis XIV, where the King wiles away his time ensconced with Madame de Pompador, his maîtresse-en-titre, whose own obsession in the macabre is never far from the surface. The sinister atmosphere allows a fascinating glimpse into this shadowy world and through it all Madeleine and Véronique try to keep one step ahead of a deadly game.
Beautifully written, The Clockwork Girl is this author writing at her absolute best in a story which takes you whirling back to a long ago era where the streets were dark and the Parisian gutters reeked of sewage and bitter despair.
📖 Best read with...a steadying cup of wine and a hot house orange
Anna Mazzola is an award-winning and critically acclaimed novelist. Her debut novel, THE UNSEEING, won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, was longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.
Twitter @anna_mazz #TheClockworkGirl