Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

It's no secret. I love Sarah Waters. I adored her after picking up Affinity years ago, dreamed of having her talent as I quickly and excitedly flipped through the pages of Tipping the Velvet, and now, The Night Watch has only reminded me, once again, of her skill.

The Night Watch is set in post-WWII London and is told from the points of view of the four main characters: Kay, Helen, Viv, and Duncan. In true Sarah Waters fashion, two of the women are lesbians, which, due to the way they must hide their relationships, makes the story even more intersting.

What I love about this novel is not just that it's magnificently written with original, honest characters or that every scene and setting is vivid and real, but that the story is told backwards through time. The novel starts in 1947 and goes backwards to 1941. Just as in real life, Waters' characters don't give everything away. Sometimes they lie or exaggerate or say just the flicker of a thought in a silent voice pushed in the back of their minds. But, by going back in time, you get to see the stories behind the secrets and the yearnings, the fears and losses brought by the war. Not to mention, Waters leaves nothing unsaid when it comes to describing, if not the facts and truths, the gritty emotions of her characters.

The one problem I had with the story, which is more ofna personal issue, is that, because there were so many characters coming in and out of the story, and because all of the characters came to know each other in some way, I often got confused between some of the characters' stories and relationships. Though, honestly, this only made me want to read the book again, just to get it all straight. There's just something about it, particularly in the beginning of the novel, before things got explained, where everything just seems intense and confusing (at least to me, who always has trouble grasping characters early in novels), and I found myself thinking "I have no idea what's going on...but know I really like it and have to finish."

All in all 4/5 stars.

<3 Gina Blechman


  1. It is hard to get so many characters and story lines straight. However, once I figure it out, I generally really like that style.

    Nice review!

  2. I agree with your rating. I liked The Night Watch, but nowhere near as much as I liked her other books. I recognized that it was good, but there wasn't that extra spark to make me love it.

    Have you read The Little Stranger? It's her only book that doesn't have any LGBT characters, but it's just as brilliant as her other books.

  3. I have yet to read The Little Stranger, but I do mean to. I remember seeing it in whatever reading circular the libraries in my area get, right as it was coming out, and getting excited. ...And then I forgot about it. Lol. But, of course, you may have noticed that I'm embarking on a 21 book summer reading extravaganza, so...yeah...I'll get to it eventually.

    <3 Gina

  4. I found Sarah Waters just a tad racy for me. But then it was my first year uni and a lot of it (me being me) went straight over my head. I found it over graphic. Sarah Waters certainly doesn't spare any details what so ever!

    Thanks for the review. At some point i should go back a re-read some of her books i think. They were well written and interesting.

    have a good day

  5. Hi Gina,

    Thanks for posting this review. I have yet another author and her books to add to my TBR!

  6. I have the same problems with George R.R. Martin's books. Too many points of view.