Monday, January 19, 2009

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

The novel The Night Watch by Sarah Waters follows several Londoners during WWII and shortly afterward. The sections of the novel move backward from 1947, 1944, and 1941. The novel tells the story of clandestine lovers, Julia and Helen, and their circle of friends. Also the story of Vivien and her brother Duncan, both harboring painful secrets. As the novel retrogresses through 1944 and 1941, these secrets are revealed. We also learn how Julia & Helen met and fell in love.

I was underwhelmed by this novel. The prose is fantastic, but overall the story left me flat. It took about half of the more than 500 pages of the novel before I could recognize the characters. I did not like the way the story moved backwards. I will admit that it added some dramatic tension to the secrets carried by Vivien and Duncan, but not very much tension. Those secrets, especially Vivien's, were quite easy to divine beforehand. I am resolved to try another of Waters' novels, most likely Fingersmith, but I was definitely disappointed with this one.


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