Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners—three women and a young man with a past—whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.
I feel like it’s obligatory to let people know when you’ve read your first Sarah Waters… So here I go. Guys… this was my first Sarah Waters.
With that out of the way. Here are my thoughts on this book.
Of course the setting was right up my street. World War II is one of my favourite things to read about. There’s still so much I don’t know about that time. In this book, for example, I learned about life in London during the Blitz. How women drove around in ambulances to try and save as many people as possible from the buildings that collapsed on top of them. You get both the exhilerating feeling of saving someone and the excruciating loss of being unable to help and driving dead people (or pieces of them) to the mortuary.
The story is told backwards. You start after the war has ended and get to know the characters in their post-war life. As you move backwards in time later on, you know where they’ll end up after. You see people, you already know under different circumstances, meet each other. I appreciated this way of storytelling.
However… I have to admit that halfway through this book, I lost interest. Since we follow a lot of different characters, it’s normal that some are more interesting than others. I thought I would love the war-parts more than the post-war-parts, but now I’m not sure if that’s the case. Maybe it was just a bit too long? 500 pages is not exactly a quick read. (At least not for me)
I’m glad I got to read this book. Like I said, the subject matter was super interesting. It’s mostly some of the characters that let me down.
Since posting about this book on social media, a lot of people have recommended “Fingersmith” to me. It seems to be the best loved Sarah Waters novel out there. Guess I’ll have to pick it up too.