Cuckoo Clock…New York

Written by Elisabeth Marrion
Review by Jeffrey Manton

Cuckoo Clock is about a Jewish doctor and her family and their flight to America with a family heirloom to cement them together. The story weaves in the Kindertransport as well as life in England during the Second World War and the terrors of travel across the Atlantic.

This is a touching book because there is some personal history, and the tapestry of nationalities brings home the sheer precipice of life and the smallest chance that made survival possible. Marrion has a series of these chances woven into the plot that take the characters one step at a time from murder to a new world. This is an accomplished writer in terms of language — beautifully-turned phrases and fine structure — and excellent ‘show’ not ‘tell’ in the main character, who we get to know by her actions within the first chapter. This is one of the best in terms of actual language I have reviewed for HNS.

Only — the subject, while we need to be told about it again and again — has been done again and again. There is not anything new here. The ‘chances’ and misfortunes are occasionally a little hard to believe, so the plot loses some sense of fear. There are several points of view, and so a first class and exciting opening is lost as we merge into so many other and different heads. The events drive the story, not the characters.

A strong cover, fine language, but maybe the voice and plot needs a little bit of work?

Finally, the prologue: it was not clear what this was for. The opening chapter was gripping enough without it.