Kate's Reviews > The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
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Jun 01, 08

bookshelves: fiction, own, post-2000, gbr_ire_cmnwlth
Read in April, 2007

I struggled with my rating on this one. It seems sad to give only 1 star to what feels like an author's greatest effort to date. And I did end up liking one of the characters a little.

Oh well.

Luckily, this book improved after the first 250 dreadful pages. But isn't that a long time to wait for improvement? See my earlier comment for the defects of the book's Part One (takes place in 1947). Part two, set three years earlier, is certainly less boring, but only because the war was still on, not because the plot or characters became more interesting.

I continued to get the impression that the characters didn't inhabit their environment so much as they were transported there against their will. For all her mentions of ration books, warning sirens, etc., Waters utterly fails to make 1944 London come alive. Furthermore, the prose is not strong. The only bold images were things that need no embellishment to be vivid - bombs, abortion, hemorrhage.

While more readable than Part One, Part Two still fell short of interesting, and Part Three, set in 1941 and only about 30 pages long, was sloppy and predictable.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Kate (last edited Apr 01, 2007 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kate I read the first 150 pages of this a couple weeks ago and then put it down, discouraged. It lacked a usually essential quality - good writing - and the events of the plot alone weren't grabbing me. I've now picked it back up again, but so far it seems to be more of the same. The cast of characters is made up primarily of extraordinarily sensitive and disappointed people who go about constantly disappointing and being insensitive to those around them. A fair amount of the plot seems to involve being late for engagements or missing them entirely, never for a good reason, and then whoever was snubbed does the same thing to someone else, just as unreasonably. Moreover, they all seem to reside in the 1940s by sheer force of will on Waters's part; the (time) setting does not feel at all natural.

That all said, I will post a fairer review when/if I finish, by which time I hope at least that the characters' sad, sad sadness will have become moving or meaningful.


message 2: by Lavina (new)

Lavina Wow. This makes me want to ... never read this book.


Karen It was amazing!! Can't believe you found it boring and (gasp!) badly written. It's as though you read a different book to me, and all the other people who have reviewed it.


message 4: by Jenny (last edited May 24, 2010 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jenny yes you (Kate) are right - I felt that the tool of having the three time periods was just blatantly used to mystify the reader so that we would eventually find out the terrible thing that had happened in the kitchen and why Duncan was in prison - even now I cant quite remember why he was or even it I was that interested in the weird relationship between Duncan and the other one. The only heterosexual relationship in the book ended with a horrific abortion which wasnt very re-assuring. Yes there was only one character I vaguely liked as well - I think her name was Helen ?!? But even now I find it difficult to remember which female character was which as the characters were so badly drawn I would have had to take notes to remember who was who.... thanks for your review. !


Francesca Miroballi After having flew through Water's "The Little Stranger", I went straight to the book store to devour any of her other works. I stood there for an hour trying to figure out which one to get and finally settled on the "the Night Watch"...and three weeks later, I'm struggling to finish this. For any of you that have read this book and are less than thrilled, I really reccommend "the little stranger" - it literally had me on the edge of my seat with goosebumps. I'll see if I can manage to finish The Night Watch but I'm just not really liking any of the characters and don't feel very connected to what is happening to them.


Jess Francesca wrote: "After having flew through Water's "The Little Stranger", I went straight to the book store to devour any of her other works. I stood there for an hour trying to figure out which one to get and fina..."

It was the same for me -- I plowed through the Little Stranger (and adored it...It really scared me) and went right to the Night Watch. Did you end up finishing it? I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it was a fairly exciting, dramatic historical epic with some good gruesome violence and a little bit of sex thrown in to spice it up.


Flave I so agree with you! Just finished that book and totally annoyed by it.


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