Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sarah Waters/THE NIGHT WATCH


London, 1947: Three women and one man are forced by circumstance to reflect on their failed and failing relationships (romantic and otherwise). Kaye, a wealthy loner, sulks alone in an apartment above a Christian Scientist doctor. Helen, a young woman who runs a dating service, can't help herself from undermining her own relationship with her live-in girlfriend, Julia, with her own distrust and insecurities. Viv, Helen's coworker, realizes she barely tolerates her long-term boyfriend. And Duncan, Viv's brother, has to confront his shameful, inert existence when a former acquaintance resurfaces. All the secrets the characters are hiding come out as the author moves into the past and the war, which changed even the most basic facets of life for London civilians.

The historical detail in this book is so rich that I feel like I had no understanding for the war experience before I read it. Waters has really done an impressive level of recreation, and THE NIGHT WATCH is a powerful reminder that war directly affects a lot more people than the soldiers fighting the battles. The characters are very evocative, and the author has done a marvelous job manipulating an unorthodox narrative format in order to tell the story satisfyingly. The book also moves at a very good pace, so don't be deterred by the length.

My one problem with the book was the fact that some passages dragged on and on for tens of pages after I'd already lost interest. I never stopped reading, but I was tempted to skim more than once. I wish the author had trimmed out at least 100 or so of the 540 pages. Overall, the book is certainly worth reading, but I have to say that I liked it, I didn't love it.

Also, incidentally, I love this cover. One of my friends who is a book cover designer claimed there are no interesting elements on covers like this, but I really like nice, simple pictures like this. I actually bought this book by the cover.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I like the cover of this book too.

I once bought a book purely because I fell in love with the cover. Unfortunately, the book was tremendously awful! I'm always tempted to put the book jacket on a book I like better.