I took some time to grow into The Watchmaker. It might have been the fierce competition of Netflix (I do had to watch The Crown and Dirk Gently), it might also have been the fact that Pulley in the first part of her novel concentrated on facts and figures subtly moving to relationships further on. The novel is interesting enough. Main character’s Thaniel life is saved because of a mysterious watch. The trail leads to A Japanese watchmaker, Mori. A close relationship develops between the men. At the side time heiress Grace is desperately trying to secure a place in the scientific, academic world. Her only other option: marrying and in that way being able to move to the house she was supposed to have inherited. This being the 19th century her parents deem her not fit to own a house, her career is seen as unwomanly. Grace and Thaniel meet at a party and come up with a solution: they decide to get married, which in the 19th century can be easily arranged. Grace and Thaniel merely need to go for a stroll in the midnight hours. In the mean time it becomes apparent that Mori has a different concept of time: his past is our future. In this way he has foreseen meeting Daniel and falling in love with him, the watch is his defense of his future lover. That Mori has abused his powers also becomes apparent. Grace is right to not totally trust him.
Grace and Thaniel are the most interesting characters of the novel, Mori remains a mysterious slightly cloudy figure. Both Grace and Thaniel are victims of society and feel obliged to take steps to secure a decent future. Their marriage is an act of desperation and bravery both at the same time. It enables Grace to pursue her scientific interests and Thaniel to take care of his sister and her children. In the end Thaniel choses Mori (who happens to be very wealthy) and Grace is saved from spinsterhood by her Japanese friend from college. He has come to realise that he misses his ungainly buddy and will take her back with him to Japan.
The Watchmaker could have been a mere phantasy romance. Pulley manages to make it more by her descriptions of British and Japanese society. Pulley shows us how Japan was looked down upon by the British who do not understand their culture and customs. She uses the rehearsal of The Mikado to make her point. I also regarded this musical as innocent amusement, through The Watchmaker I have come to see it as highly insulting to Japanese society. I doubt whether it would have been written and produced in this time and age.
I liked The Watchmaker, it started to grow on me when Pulley started concentrating more on the main characters and less on the gadgets.