Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Rating 2 out of 5

"Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked out streets, illicit liaisons, sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch is the work of a truly brilliant and compelling storyteller. This is 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"

Well I must admit I just was not taken by this book. Even though I really wanted to like this book as it is normally the sort of thing I enjoy, historical settings, strong women, unusual story, and interesting themes. Also it came quite highly recommended. However I just could not get into this book fully, I just could not work up any real interest at all.

The pace I found was almost painfully slow, it didn't really go anywhere until towards the end. I did not like the story being told back with a backwards storyline as it was annoying and not engaging. The stories told at the end were far more interesting then the stories told at the start. Personally I think if the story line was reversed it would have made the start far more impact with the sadness of how the characters had gotten where they were. If the books ending was at the start it would have been more interesting story in my mind. However others clearly loved this format and the way it was written as it has garnered a lot of great reviews and has been nominated for the Booker and Orange literary prizes

The underlying themes in the story were probably the only saving grace of this book for me and kept me reading. It deals with issues that in the 1940 were taboo such as homosexuality, women's rights, and abortion. It also dealt a little on the effects of war and how society was changing during that period.

I would recommend this book to people who like reading books nominated for prizes, lesbian fiction, or what I like to call "people" drama.

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