Lacey Louwagie's Reviews > The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
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Jun 01, 08

Recommended for: anyone
Read in September, 2007

I had this book pushed on me from someone in my building. I didn't really mind because I saw it was by Sarah Waters who wrote Tipping the Velvet, but I wasn't particularly excited to start this one. I finally cracked it open because said neighbor is moving out soon and I wanted to get it back to him before he left. Now I feel sad that I have to part with it.

I loved this book. It follows the lives of four people backwards through World War II. It begins post-war, in 1947, and you meet these characters who all have some sort of secret or mystery from their pasts. Rather than have the secret "come out" as the story progresses, Waters takes you literally back in time so that you see how the past unfolded while knowing what the consequences ended up being in the future. The result is that you stay strangely in the moment and have a sad sense of premonition as you read the ending first. Although most of the characters are gay, Sarah isn't writing a novel about the "gay" experience of World War II, just quietly illuminating the lives of gay people living through the war like everyone else. Sarah pays special attention to the nuances of desire, guilt, and regret. Her characters are carefully and finely drawn and her dialog is heart-wrenching in its honesty. Sarah's writing has matured so much that, as much as I liked Tipping, it feels like pure fluff next to this.
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