The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley: Lavinia’s Book Pick, April 2018

This book recommend is one that I’d be really interested to hear what other people thought about!

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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a steampunky historical/magic realist novel that tells the story of Nathaniel a (sometimes) synesthetic telegraph operator who becomes (guess what) unwittingly embroiled in international intrigue and magic clockwork japes.

There were some great things about it: it had an engaging aesthetic, and there was a truly unexpected surprise that both came out of nowhere and made perfect sense when it was there. Nathaniel and the watchmaker himself were great characters and the historical detail on a period I knew little about was genuinely fascinating.

But I also had some niggles with it that wouldn’t go away. There was a really good female character in it, Grace, a science student at Oxford struggling to be recognised among the men. But two-thirds of the way through the book her character did a bunch of insane stuff for no reason. And even though the book was written by a woman, a lot of the female characters were just stereotypes – the neurotic mother, the fussing maid, etc. etc.

It felt as if it was ratcheting up for a big, elaborate conclusion. And there was a dramatic conclusion. But after that it kind of unravelled and a lot of the trails laid in the earlier parts of the book seemed to go nowhere. It was quite frustrating at the end, when I’d loved the first three quarters.

But I’d still recommend it! I’m dying to know if I missed something, or if other people thought it was more tightly plotted than I did.

You’ll love this book if: 
– You like vivid historical settings
– You’re digging that steampunk aesthetic

You might want to avoid this book if:
– Coincidences as plot features put you off
– You’re not digging that steampunk aesthetic

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