07 January, 2007

The Night Watch (Sarah Waters)

I enjoy Sarah Waters novels - they're always so dramatic. Lesbian affairs, murders, betrayal, deception, and so on. I expected The Night Watch to be similar - lesbians in the Blitz, bombings, a load of enjoyable drama. But The Night Watch is probably the most subtle and intricate of her novels, or so it seemed to me.

I'd read about its reverse chronological order, but even though I was prepared for it, I still had to flick backwards while reading to remind myself about how this situation turned out, or the later significance of that person. I'm not sure it really worked for me, and I'm not quite sure why she chose to write it that way. It did add an air of melancholy to the whole story, knowing where the characters end up while you're reading the beginnings of their stories,but I don't like having to flick backwards to work something out - that means a book isn't working for me.

The Night Watch does a wonderful job of invoking Blitz-era London, which is not a time I've read a great deal about, so I found that very interesting. The interplay of the characters, their lives going on amongst the war that surrounds them - it was a very touching story, although ultimately quite depressing. Definitely worth the read, despite the offputting way it's structured.


Lesley said...

My favorite book of hers is Fingersmith, followed closely by Affinity (although I also immensely enjoyed Tipping the Velvet).

I haven't read The Night Watch yet, although it's on my TBR shelf. Glad to hear it's a worthy addition to her other books!

Cee said...

It's quite different to her other books, Lesley, or at least I thought so. A slightly less commercial flavour, perhaps? Enjoyable nonetheless :-)

piksea said...

I really enjoyed 'The Night Watch.' The backwards chronology definitely worked for me. The way the characters looped in and out of each other's lives was so well done. I had no idea that the characters would be flung to the winds and redistributed so.

Anonymous said...

Helen makes a reference to remembering the silk pajamas, does this indicate a possible return to Kay?