The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Jenny reviewed this book a while ago and I was intrigued enough to get it from the library, though I was not sure I would like it. I'm still not sure whether I liked it!
In an alternate Victorian London, telegraph clerk Thaniel Steepleton* has a mysterious gold watch show up in his lodgings. Six months later, the watch saves him from an Irish bomb. The bombing is not very interesting, but the watch is; where did it come from? Thaniel finds Keita Mori, a Japanese watchmaker with some fairly stunning inventions and something odd about him. Much of the story is dedicated to figuring out just what Mori's mystery is, and what it means.
We also have Grace, who wants to be a physicist but is hemmed in by family demands that she marry. I found her to be an awkward character; I don't love where she fits into the story, I don't know why she is at Oxford, despising classicists, when Cambridge is where the science is at and also they accepted women students first, and could she really get a chair in either location? It's interesting that she's after proving the existence of aether, which may actually exist in this version of the universe, but otherwise she does bizarre things.
It's almost steampunk, but the clockwork is too pretty. I kind of liked this novel, and I was also frequently annoyed by it. I am distinctly ambivalent about the whole thing, including the cover, which I want to love but which may just be too much. And that might be how I feel about the story too.
If you've read this, let's argue about Grace in the comments!
*Thaniel? Dude, really? He even apologizes for it in the story, but that is not enough.