Claude Page as a young child in pre-Revolution France thinks the mole on his finger is pretty neat. His mother works with a defrocked abbe to find a surgeon to remove the mole but ends up removing his entire middle finger to add to his collection of oddities. Soon after, Claude apprentices with the abbe and learns enameling and watchmaking, the latter of which really interests Claude as his father used to be a watchmaker. Claude uses some of his own time to come up with new inventions. However when Claude sees the abbe do something horrible for which he can never be forgiven, Claude runs away to Paris to try and make a name for himself there.
This book started off a bit slow but eventually came to a good rhythm. Though it's a historical fiction, I found that the time period didn't play too big of a role in the book. It was more about the characters, how they related to each other, and their inventions. It would have been nicer to have a bit more detail on the watchmaking process and Claude's other inventions but this book was more about drama than technical aspects.
First Line: "The case of curiosities came into my possession at a Paris auction in the spring of 1983."