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Night Waking

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  454 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins. Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Ann ...more
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published February 3rd 2011 by Granta Books (3 Feb 2011) (first published February 1st 2011)
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Set on a tiny Hebridean island, Night Waking is the story of Anna, academic and mother of two small children, who is working on a book about childhood in the eighteenth century while her own children are driving her to distraction and her aristocratic husband studies puffins, oblivious to the demands of domestic life. The already precarious balance of their lives is disturbed still further by the discovery of the bones of an infant buried in their garden.

Running parallel to the main narrative is
Anna is a mother on a remote island struggling to manage her marriage, workload and two young children when she discovers a baby’s skeleton in her garden. She proceeds to neglect all domestic duties in favour of investigating the child’s untimely demise. The narrative is bleak and repetitive, and the subplot of the island’s historically high infant mortality rate is mediocre. It could be said to effectively mirror the trials of daily life with children and an unsupportive husband. But whether an ...more
I finished this book weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about it. The characters are believable (uncomfortably so if you're from a middle-class background, and see reflections in the anxieties over recycling and constant guilt over doing The Right Thing), and the setting is beautifully drawn. It's no surprise that Moss lectures in the use of place in story, because the isolated Scottish island is so vivid it acts as a character. I don't think I'd actually want to meet any of these characters, but ...more
A marvellous, humorous portrait of what it's really like to be a working mum. I wanted to shout at Anna that she is a wonderful mum, loving her two boys and doing a much better job than she believes. Yes, it's a book about infant mortality on a remote Hebridean island, a book about the sins of the fathers, a book about feminism but most of all it's about the funny, difficult, sweet details of family life.
June Seghni
I bought this as a 99p Amazon deal of the day, knowing nothing about it..and was immediately hooked into this story of a pair of academics and their two children living on a remote scottish island. Dad is an ecologist studying birds, while signally failing to notice the distress of his equally intelligent wife, an oxford research Fellow , as she struggles to work on her book while managing the children without much help from him. I really identified with the wife, Anna..I once had dreams of 'the ...more
This is worth reading. A bumbling female academic historian Anna goes to live on a remote Scottish island with her aristocratic husband who is counting puffins and owns the house, a precocious and morbid 7 year old who spends his time re-enacting modern disasters and an insomniac spoiled toddler. Anna is trying to write a book on 19th century history but finds it impossible to combine with sleep deprivation, childcare and eeking out an existence on the island. She is quite an annoying character, ...more
I thought this book was extremely well written. I could totally relate to Anna and her desperate need for sleep. I loved Moth and Raph, and their sayings sometimes made me laugh old loud. I would have liked to know a little more from May Mobberly as I loved the two interwoven stories. I didn't want this to end and I felt a little flat when I turned to the last page and realised Anna's story had ended. Highly recommended.
M.T. McGuire
I was recommended this book by a friend who noticed that my position somewhat mirrors that of the main character; as in trying to combine motherhood and work at home - with similarly mixed results.

However, there's more to it than a feeling of solidarity with stressed out Mums. The writing is excellent, lyrical in many places, laugh out loud funny in others. One bit, particularly, where the girl is hiding from her son and he suddenly appears and starts asking her difficult and fairly random quest
Lexie Conyngham
I enjoyed this book though I felt ambivalent about the narrator, Anna, torn between being an awful but obsessive mother and being an academic. She really is an awful mother, but a very strong and sympathetic narrator. The conflicts inspired by the discovery of a baby's skeleton in her Scottish island garden (which seems to be a bit of a theme these days) are not dramatic: what happened in the past was, and her treatment of the sides of island life in the late 19th. century leave you wondering wh ...more
Hmm...I completely empathized with the narrator and her emotional/intellectual isolation with early motherhood. The lack of sleep ("would I exchange 10 years of my life for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep?" Yes!), the lack of space, mental and literal, to do anything that was not related to childcare and housework (Half an hour, could I get half an hour to work on the paper, please?) the perpetual chaos and the ultimate responsibility for the children and the home. If I had read it 5 years ago, r ...more
Angela Stafford
This book is about a family who spend a summer on a remote Island of the coast of Scotland. It centers around the mother's dissatisfaction with her lot as mother and wife and her inability to focus on her writing career whilst looking after the family.

I found this book quite hard to rate as I couldn't decide whether I liked or disliked it. On one hand the story moves very slowly. It is an in depth look at relationships and the effect of the choices we make. Slow and steady is not usually my thi
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As a mum too, I really identified and sympathised with Anna. It can seem that there is such a contradiction between feeling so desperate when sleep deprived, and yet at the same time so full of overwhelming love and awe for the tiny bundle of joy that's caused the very deprivation in the first place, and this I felt the author brilliantly realised. For me, there was a lot of humour in Anna's dark mutterings to herself, and I loved the portrayal of both her interna ...more
Rhea Esposito
The first half of this book will probably terrify any new parents, or anyone even thinking about ever being new parents, though ultimately it's redemptive of parenthood and family in some ways. But there is no glossing over of the unending, soul-sucking tasks of parenthood in this story, and it's enough to scare anyone who is planning to include that in their future. It certainly makes the challenges of being a working mother abundantly clear, and since the main characters are both academics, th ...more
Carey Combe
Too much of put-upon wife and useless husband, comic chick lit set pieces about food on clothes etc, disguised as a social/historical thriller on why babies died on the islands - what a surprise.

Read this for my book club. Very funny in parts but the characters were unlovable and annoying. Felt like homework at times, but glad I persevered to the end.
Overall I found this to be a so-so book. I was drawn to the idea of reading about someone like me; mid thirties, mum, two young children, trying to juggle a career with childcare and a husband who takes no domestic responsibility and offers no recognition of the achievements and needs of his exhausted wife (thankfully that is all in my past now, but not so for Anna). To start with I found the book frustrating as I thought that Anna was not helping herself, and allowed her children to dictate far ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Blair marked it as unsuccessful-attempt  ·  review of another edition
Far, far, FAR too much about babies/children/motherhood from the word go. No thanks.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Imagine Peter May and Rachel Cusk wrote a book together, with a helping hand from Sarah Waters. Night Waking is that book. It's got baby skeletons dug up on Hebridean Islands; a two year old who refuses to sleep through the night; a half crazed mother wielding organic baby snacks while her husband counts puffins; and letters from a lonely 19th century nurse cut off from her family during a dark, cold winter. Which makes it hard to categorise: a motherhood thriller? More like a gender equality th ...more
Why isn't this in the Booker long list?
This excellent book is mainly concerned with the lives of two married research scientists, Giles and Anna, working from home while caring for their young sons. Although Giles intends to be supportive, he gets to do most of the research while Anna gets to do most of the childcare. She worries about both her career and her parenting skills and is hard on herself, despite being by far the best example of responsible parenting given in the book. (The other examples are Giles' parents, Anna's parents ...more
Karen Lowe
This is a terrific book. The narrator, Anna, is a sleep-deprived mum of a toddler in the Terrible Twos, and of earnest inventive ecologically aware seven year old Raph. Her husband (Giles) obsessed with his own work observing the puffin colony on the remote Scottish island (based on St Kilda) which Giles has inherited. She is desperately trying to balance the competing needs of the family and her own struggle to complete the book (historical research into childcare) which is her own career, with ...more
I found this book rather emotionally tough at times. I really liked Anna but because we could see in her head I often found the things she thought, and sometimes even the things she did made me feel uneasy, especially when it came to her children.

In fact it was quite well done because you could understand Anna's thoughts and approach to things, even though you might not agree, and they were easy things to judge her for.

A lot of the book was about Anna as a mother. At times I did actually find he
Hannah Wingfield
This is one of those books that I personally loved but which has quite a niche appeal. If you, like me, are a parent who, yes of course, loves their child/ren more than anything, but is sleep-deprived and/or occasionally desperate to have a little more time to work on your own projects (or just any time to work on them) then you will find much to relate to here. Conversely, if you don’t have children but are wondering what the day-to-day reality of parenthood is like, Night Waking will tell you, ...more
Nancy Roberts
Oxford academic, Anna, is struggling with the balancing the demands of looking after two small children, largely unaided, on the remote, fictional island of Colsay, in the Hebrides, while attempting to salvage her academic reputation and, ultimately, her identity as someone other than Raph and Moth's mother.

Moss's portrayal of motherhood and, in particular, the challenges of attempting to combine it with an ostensibly flexible career is refreshingly honest. Although clearly a devoted mother, Ann
Zum Buch: „Schlaflos“ von Sarah Moss ist ein Roman, der am 09.07.2013 im Mare Verlag erschienen ist. Zu beziehen z.B. hier:

Klappentext: Eine karge Insel im Westen Schottlands, ständige Stromausfälle und eine unsichere Telefonverbindung. Ein Zweijähriger, der die Nächte zum Tag macht, und ein Siebenjähriger, der die Tage damit verbringt, sich die originellsten Versionen des Weltuntergangs auszumalen. Dazu ein Ehemann, der einer in den Klippen heimischen P
Ruth Jalfon
this was an ok read but she could definitely have been it in a shorter book - this is nearly 400 pages and was sometimes pretty tedious and repetitive. It is about Anna, a historian specializing in childhood who is 'stranded' on a (fictional) Hebrides small island with 2 small children and a detached non supportive husband. She bemoans for hundreds of pages, with tons of repetitive details into their daily feeding-playing-bedtime-night-time life, the downside to motherhood and how she has had to ...more
Enjoyed very much although all the men in the book were pretty badly behaved. They either devolved all responsibility for children and house to their wives (with instructions, obviously); blamed them for how the children turned out (giving no thought to how their negligent parenting may have contributed to said outcome); made 1950's sexist comments towards Anna or were just out and out arses! Anna struggled with children and working on a book with no support from her husband. Her children were g ...more
Anna is a historian, researching childhood in Victorian times for her book, which she is writing on an isolated Island off the Scottish coast. Her ecologist husband is busy counting puffins during the day, while Anna struggles to balance her career with caring for her two children. They are also renovating a cottage to hire out and host families.

With barely any sleep, I felt like stepping in and shaking this mother and as she is woken every night in the early hours by her two year old son Moth.
Felicity Prescott
Having read Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss several days ago and rated it 5 stars for its authenticity and lucid style I am once again impressed with Moss's work. Written in a very different tone, The Waking Night is absorbing, engaging and atmospheric with many humourouus touches to lighten the reality of middle class parenting in the 21st century. The link with May, a character in Bodies of Light, is deftly done.
Dr Anna Bennett is marooned on a Scottish isle in the Hebrides for the summer, the ancestral home of her husband's family (the Cassinghams). She has a book to finish in order to secure her Fellowship in Oxford, she has a 7-year old son (Raphael) who is obsessed with disasters, an 18-month old son (Timothy aka Moth) who has yet to sleep through the night, and a husband who has more concern for the decline of the local puffin colony than what is going on in his household. On top of all this, she u ...more
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