The Clockwork Man


Image Courtesy: Internet

Created to Fascinate

Designed to Serve

Until he broke free

Karl Gruber, a world-famous builder of automated clocks, has reached the pinnacle of his art in Ernst—a man constructed entirely of clockwork. Educated and raised in the Gruber household to be a gentle, caring soul, Ernst begins to discover a profound love for his master’s daughter, Giselle. Just as their relationship becomes intimate, however, tragedy strikes and the family falls apart. Abandoned, knowing no other life but the one he has led, Ernst allows himself to wind down in a kind of suicide. Over one hundred years later, he awakens in a strange new land, the world he’s known long gone. Along with his mentor and guide, a well-meaning if slightly unstable homeless man, Ernst attempts to piece together the events that brought him to his new home and to let go of the century-old tragedy that still haunts him.

When I first read this excerpt, I expected a book that might lose my interest as it progressed. But, now that I have read the book, I take back those thoughts. The book is an amazing work of fiction by author Willian Jablonsky. In fact I started to believe that this was actually based on real incidents..now that’s good writing.

Ernst, a clock work man was the master piece of his creator Karl Gruber, the “Leonardo” of clocks. Created during pre-war Europe, Germany to be precise, the life of Ernst revolves around his master and his family until tragedy strikes and the onslaught of events that follow lead to Ernst waking up in modern America more than 100 years later as a window dressing. Having known a life filled with love, admiration and respect, he is confused to be present in a time where nobody seems to understand his real nature or care enough to try. Is he doomed to be a mannequin for the rest of his existence? Will he find his destiny and would he forgive himself for what happened to Giselle, his beloved masters daughter?

The story unfolds slowly but then is full of drama to keep one turning the pages. It was amazing to think that a mechanical man could be as real as a human being and in this case a near perfect gentleman…What was more interesting was the ability of Ernst to experience human emotions  like happiness, guilt and fear but his logical thought process led him to believe that this was due to a glitch in his system!

The characters of Karl Gruber, his daughter Giselle and son Jakob have also been beautifully contrasted. Giselle the talented and blooming young woman with her whole life ahead of her is Ernst’s greatest admirer while Jakob is the jealous one. It was chilling to discover how Jakob aligns with Hitler and his men during the world war. The unlikely romance between Ernst and Giselle will definitely make the reader believe in the concept of true love however unlikely it may seem.

The book is filled with little pieces of German art, architecture, lifestyle and history along with the appearances of American characters such as Thomas Alvah Edison and Henry Ford. The characters are shown in a different light, a negative one at that, which might surprise readers who do not know much about the great scientist and the business man of the modern world.

The entire book is narrated in first person the form of journal entries which makes it easier to read. This also helps to keep the pace as the sequence of events unfold from the 19th century to the 20th.A few chapters such as the intimate encounter between Ernst and Giselle could have been avoided considering that the story of their romance was progressing well even without it.

The chapters on his life in America with Greenley, a homeless man for company is all about self-discovery for Ernst. He goes through the emotions of any normal person during his crime fighting adventures and his abilities to think logically but execute his thoughts mechanically will make readers fall in love with Ernst as he becomes a hero. But will he turn into a Superhero? The answer lies in the last page of the book and you should read it yourself to find out 🙂

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