Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters - Review

The Blurb
The story of four Londoners - three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy. Kay, who drove an ambulance during the war and lived life at full throttle, now dresses in mannish clothes and wanders the streets with a restless hunger, searching...Helen, clever, sweet, much-loved, harbours a painful secret...Viv, glamour girl, is stubbornly, even foolishly loyal, to her soldier lover...Duncan, an apparent innocent, has had his own demons to fight during the war. Their lives, and their secrets connect in sometimes startling ways. War leads to strange alliances...Tender, tragic and beautifully poignant, set against the backdrop of feats of heroism both epic and ordinary, here is a novel of relationships that offers up subtle surprises and twists. 


I was recommended this book by a good friend but kind of forgot all about it, if I am honest. It was not until I saw an advert on the BBC for their new season in which clips for an adaptation for the book are mentioned, that I thought "hmmm.. I had better read that then, before it airs". 

I have to be frank, I blew a little hot and cold with this novel at the beginning. Now, that could have just been me, out of "read mode" again, so I pressed on. And I am so pleased that I did.

The first thing that struck me about this story is the chronology of it. It runs backwards from 1948 to 1941 with years in between. So, you find out how it all ends and then learn the links to what you already know as you read on. This premise I found incredibly refreshing. As I read more, I found myself saying, literally out loud "Ahhhhhh! I geddit!!"

I love the way that all characters are subtly entwined, how their lives, although being lived during World War II, are carrying on. Love is found, heartache is shouldered, lives are lost, trauma is endured. To the backdrop of an incredibly turbulent time in itself.

I liked each character enough that I cared about what happened to them, but there are parts of the book that shall stay with me in a "this is the bit that made me weep on the train" kind of way. Not directly because of loss -  but due to the situation of one character and her desperation in one line. Oh, it got me. It got me good.

I am interested to see the screening of this as a drama, to see if the characters are portrayed as I have imagined them in my head.

If you have been pondering this novel - it is certainly worth the read. Most definitely.

A stonking 7/10 from meeeeeeeeeeee!


  1. I love Sarah Waters, she's one of my favourite authors. Her books always have a little more to them than straight historical fiction.

  2. I thought it was amazing. There was one scene that was so vivid it almost made me faint on the bus (seriously, I had to put my head between my knees) x

  3. I literally cannot wait for this on Tuesday (it actually follows Restoration House or something - Tuesday is finally a good television day!) - I squealed when I saw the advert. I haven't read this one, but ploughed my way through The Little Stranger, which was pretty good, but like you said of The Night Watch, made me want to stop reading at the beginning. Worth a go though, it gets better as you go along! See you on Twitter on Tuesday, haha :-D

  4. You know, I was put off reading this as I was so excited about reading 'The Little Stranger' as it had been so hyped, and I actually found it really disappointing. However, I may give it a try after reading your positive review :)

  5. i have readf it too. Looking forward to seeing the tele version. though i will add it is not nearly as good as the fingersmith by her. The twist in that did make me loose my breathe! xx meet you all at the tv on tuesday! x

  6. I love this book and have re-read it many times, so am also looking forward to Tuesday night. The only thing is, that I have my own mental images what each of the characters look like, especially Kay, Viv and Reggie, that I hope the casting and styling matches the descriptions in the book.

  7. Really pleased you enjoyed it. I love this book and like most people I am hoping that the TV show does it justice. The only thing that surprises me is that it's just a one-off....would have thought they could almost make a series of it.

    K xx

  8. I've read a few of Sarah Water's novels,she's awfully good,so I'll be on the look out for this one!

  9. Keshling - I didn't realise it was a one off. Shame they could not have made it into a series.

  10. I missed it on Tues :( will have to iplayer it if poss. xx

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