Clarissa Draper's Reviews > The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
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Jun 26, 10

bookshelves: other-literature

Genre: Literary Fiction
How I read it: I own the book.


What attracted me to the book: I actually thought it was a mystery set in 1940s London so I bought it. But, it's not, it's not even close to a mystery...in the mystery sense of the word.


Who should read this book: Anyone who loves good writing but doesn't mind some really STRONG (suicide, gay relations, abortion, war...) subjects being discussed.

Summary (From Amazon): From Publishers Weekly
Waters begins Night Watch at the end of her tale in 1947 and works her way backwards to 1941. Since she ensures that characters don't spoil the freshness of earlier events by leaking important information, the first part includes a series of conversations that coyly allude to the characters' pasts and make the narrative slightly difficult to comprehend. The feat of entering this tale aurally is compounded by having to follow three separate narrative lines, which Waters later connects with clever Dickensian precision. Juanita McMahon performs the work persuasively. What she lacks in vocal range, she makes up by endowing characters with accents and speech patterns to reflect distinctions of social class. She gives the character Kay's voice such deep Dietrich-like sexual innuendo that one wonders why her lovers abandon her. Despite the initial challenge, Night Watch is a skillfully written historical account of love of all persuasions trying to survive the dark prospects of London during the blitz.

My opinion: Well, my initial disappointment was that it wasn't a mystery. But, that's my fault. Not all dark covered books are mysterious and haunting (although this one is a bit haunting).

Let's start with the good: The WRITING... it's, well, BRILLIANT. She manages to tell a story that you'll remember for years even though you might not want to. Also, she did a lot of research into the 1940s war-time London. She describes the blackouts and what life was like back then when you couldn't see after the sun went down. Also, the terror that people felt when the bombs fell on London and the life afterward. Really well done.

Now, some things I didn't like so much: The novel goes BACK IN TIME. It starts in 1947 then moves to 1943 then to 1941. I found it somewhat frustrating because I had forgot where some of the characters left off in the 'future' and so when reading their past, I got confused. Also, I wanted to know how they ended up. I wanted past 1947... some readers may find that frustrating.

Next, the THEMES. I don't mind if a writer takes up discussing one or two subjects considered by many as strong or questionable. But, this writers writes about many in great detail. One character has an abortion and I actually found myself getting nauseated. This novel is, at times, for the strong of stomach.

TOO MANY CHARACTERS - this novel follows three groups of people. At times, I became confused. If you read this book, make sure you have time to read it without breaks in between. I sometimes left the book for a day or two and when I came back, I had to remember who each character was, especially the females.

All in all, if you're looking for a well-written, modern book that takes risks, you may like this one.
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