A tormented apprentice clock-maker - and a deadly knight in armour. A mechanical prince - and the sinister Dr Kalmenius, who some say is the devil... Wind up these characters, fit them into a story on a cold winter's evening and suddenly life and the story begin to merge - almost like clockwork...
©1996 Philip Pullman (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Trying to save my children from commercial radio I've been turning to audio books. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one but there was great interest and silence from my 9 year old son. We were both captivated by the story and the telling. when you find yourself sitting in the car spellbound waiting for the next part of the story instead of rushing into the house at the end of the day I guess you have to say you loved it
"The Brothers Grimm Would Have Approved"
A young apprentice clockmaker is morose and desperate as he sits in Glockenheim's White Horse tavern on the last day of his apprenticeship; he has not been able to deliver a clock figure as all apprentices over the ages have done before him and his reputation is about to be ruined and he shares his despair with the town's storyteller, young Fritz. Fritz assures him that his difficulties are nothing compared to the hardships of creating stories, as he is expected to tell the townfolk gathered there his latest story in a few minutes, and though he has a new tale to tell them, he hasn't managed to write an ending for it in the night, but must somehow invent it as he goes along. And so begins a fantastic dark tale featuring a prince and princess and a dark forest and a suspicious ghastly death which features a mysterious character... who very suddenly appears in the tavern as Fritz introduces him in his storytelling and offers the apprentice a Faustian pact which promises to solve all his problems and bring him great fame and wealth, but will also put the lives of two innocent children in mortal danger. A wonderful tale in the tradition of the best Germanic storytellers of old such as E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Brothers Grimm, this is a tightly paced novella. Wonderfully narrated by Anton Lesser.
"A modern clockwork fairy tale"
I downloaded this from Audible this morning and listened to it while shoveling snow, wishing I had a clockwork automaton to do that for me.
Philip Pullman's Clockwork is a fairy tale set in Germany in (presumably) the 19th century, in a world where clockwork devices can be made so intricately precise that they can, if constructed by a particularly ingenious clockmaker, pass for little boys. There are elements of Pinocchio, Faust, and any number of Hans Christian Andersen fables in this story that actually weaves three stories together.
There is Franz, the storyteller who entertains the townspeople with fabulous and hair-raising stories, until he ends up invoking someone who shows up in the tavern while Franz is telling a tale about him.
Karl, the clockmaker's apprentice, approaching the day of the end of his apprenticeship where his great creation will emerge from the town clock tower, has a big problem: he hasn't actually created anything. So of course he is pulling his hair out and swearing he'd do anything to get out of this mess, and you know where that leads in fairy tales.
Finally, there is the story of the proud and arrogant prince and his pretty, fashionable wife, in need of an heir. When their only son dies stillborn, the prince goes looking for a replacement, and procures a clockwork boy.
Everything wraps up with the bad getting more or less what they deserved, the good living happily ever after. Pullman is a good storyteller, especially when he stays concise and doesn't drag trilogies off the rails in the final book (*cough* The Amber Spyglass *cough*). Clockwork really is just a modern fairy tale, so don't expect any brilliant subversion or some kind of steampunk twist.
I enjoyed the story. There were a few times I got confused because it switched between story and narration without any warning. Overall I would recommend it.
"Gather 'round and set it going"
"Once upon a time, when time ran by clockwork, a strange event took place in a little German town. Actually, it was a series of events, all fitting together like the parts of a clock, and although each person saw a part, no one saw the whole of it."
So begins Pullman's enchanting story. It's a sweet winter's parable that combines a touch of Grimm with a touch of Goethe, with all the elements given life and great charm by the character actor Anton Lesser.
We listened to this last year as our "ghost story for Christmas," and it's back by popular demand this year! It's just the right length for such a story, and perfect for snowy weather.
Wishing you all that is merry and bright...
what an amazing story! creative! never dull, short but very enjoyable with unexpected turn of events.
"Great short listen"
Very interesting story and the narrator makes this piece come to life. It is definitely a title I will enjoy listening to several times.
"Fractured Fairy Tale"
Like many readers, I only ever read Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series, starting with The Golden Compass. Clockwork provided an opportunity to sample another of his works, also a children's book, like most of his books. Now, I'm not sure if I want to try that again -- this just did not work for me.
I never think it's a good idea for a writer to explain his central metaphor, even to children who may otherwise not understand it. But to explain how clocks worked in a pre-electronic age, then tell us that stories can work the same way, then having one character write a story within the story called Clockwork, having another character make clockworks, and having a third who has clockwork instead of a heart, well, it's all just too much, and doesn't make all that much sense. I'm not sure how children can be expected to understand this when it is too convoluted for this adult, even with all the preamble about clockwork and metaphor.
The print edition is heavily illustrated, but I don't think the absence of illustration makes any difference. I could see how it might enhance the printed word, but the spoken word should hold water on its own. I don't see how pictures would make this tale any less nonsensical.
great book, short and to the point, a tiny mystery. good for a short listen
great little story with lots of little twists and turns considering its brevity. Narrator was perfect for this, sounded like he had written the story himself.
"A lovely fairytale"
If the world wanted to make me really happy, Philip Pullman would spend his days writing fairytales and Anton Lesser would record them. Pullman himself would record some as well, since he is also a marvelous narrator. Clockwork is a beautifully-written and very engaging story, brought to life by the incomparable Anton Lesser. I have listened to Lesser narrating Dickens (divine) and am hunting for more of his narration. I have no interest in Canterbury Tales, for instance, but may have to give that a try, since that's largely the sort of thing Lesser has done!
Spine-chilling, powerful and exciting
The clever plotting.
Anton Lesser is a brilliant actor, and he is able to be atmospheric but not intrusive.
Nice little story, read perfectly by the narrater. Engaging as always with Philip Pullman...loved it
"A wonderful story to listen by firelight."
What a wonderful story and so well narrated. Surely to be enjoyed by young and old alike. My children and I were enchanted by this clever tale within a tale, combining mystery, horror, love and imagination in equal measures. Highly recommended.
"Enjoyed the narration very much."
Philip Pullman's writing is usually unpredictable. Unfortunately, this was. Brilliantly narrated though. Worth a listen.
"Great story, well read"
Super story - kept my 9 and 7 year old entertained.
"A terrific tale slightly hammed up"
This is a gem of a story. It has a very interesting structure, that, as the title suggests, fits together like clockwork. I have read, and retread this story to myself and aloud to enthralled classes of year 4 (8-9 year old children) many, many times, and having listened to this narrator's slightly hammy performance, I will continue to do so.
There are a number of characters that I like: Gretl, the landlord's daughter is, like many of Pullman's female characters, the strongest and most moral of the characters. Karl is a weak willed and grumpy apprentice, who, rather than spend time learning his craft, opts to make a deal to get him out of a spot of bother, only to be faced with a bigger, more sinister spot of bother. I also like the character of Fritz, a story teller who, like Karl, isn't always prepared to see things through to the end. However, my favourite character, if he can be called such, is the Putzi, the cat.
His telling of the story is fine, his accents were rather iffy, although he clearly had fun hamming them up.
This is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, and you will appreciate the story telling skills of Phillip Pullman, who has weaves together a lovely tale of love, sacrifice and clockwork figures.
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