Shortlisted for Audible's Listen of the Year, 2006.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2006.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, 2006. 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.
Tender, tragic, and beautifully poignant, set against the backdrop of feats of heroism both epic and ordinary, here is a novel of relationships that offers up subtle surprises and twists. The Night Watch is thrilling. A towering achievement.
"Brilliantly done....A tour-de-force of hints, clues, and dropped threads." ( Independent on Sunday)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Karen on 26-03-06
Atmospheric and gripping
This is really good listening and I would thoroughly recommend you download it without delay. The backdrop to the characters is the war and life on the home front. As a reader you are uncertain what will happen, and this parallels the uncertainty that the characters have about their future. What if we die tomorrow? What if we don't? It is amazing to think about how people managed any kind of normal existence with bombs and buildings falling all around them. Yet here we see that for some the war also provided more freedom, and an escape from convention. People falling in love, falling out of love, people questioning the boundaries of relationships, people discovering who they are. A gripping story unravels ....
75 of 76 people found this review helpful
By Louisa on 23-08-06
A wonderful listen
A wonderful listen: The Night Watch
This is a wonderful listen - atmospheric and beautifully read. The most remarkable aspect of the book is the incredibly detailed description Sarah Walters gives of London during the bombing, and how sympathetically she describes the suffering and anguish of the characters. Throughout, I kept wondering whom she had talked to and how she had found out so much about what it felt like to live through that time. Most interesting of all is the way in which she subtly makes the reader reflect on how important the 1940s were for the way that people's lives changed because of the war. Although she never makes any overt statement, you feel that the characters, many of whom do not conform to social norms, were able to live freer lives than before the war and that attitudes towards them, after the war, would gradually change. Waters is excellent on people's little embarrassments. She describes how women did not like being seen going to the lavatory and how, when at work, they were not allowed to go to the lavatory except at specified times. These details, and the details about makeup and the petty tyrannies of the typing pool are what make one feel she must have talked to people and not just read about what it was like to live at that time. There are so many questions one would like to ask the author, that the interview with her at the end is a real disappointment, focusing on her schooling and sexuality rather than immense learning and her wonderful evocation of people and a period of which she can have had absolutely no personal experience.
47 of 48 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lisa on 29-07-06
Atmospheric and suspenseful
This wonderful novel explores the lives and relationships of a handful of women and men in post-war London. The writer has created very realistic, believable characters; as a reader I felt I really got to know them and cared about them. The structure of the book is very effective, as it moves backwards in time to reveal how the characters met and what has brought them to this point in the story. This adds a nice touch of suspense. Sarah Waters brilliantly recreates the atmosphere of London during the blitz and in the years immediately following the war. I didn’t want the book to end, which for me is always a good measure of a novel.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Scoundrel on 13-10-12
An interesting book, which I failed to finish.
I bought this book because I had been looking for a fictional novel focussing on Londoners during WWII. In this, I suppose I was always going to be disappointed.
This is the story of four people living through the war, but I suppose I'd been expecting more detail of life in London - especially given that the summary mentioned Kay driving ambulances. However the book focuses very strongly on the personal lives and problems of the character, as opposed to the overarching theme of war.
The queer themes were completely unexpected, but not unwelcome, I'm always on the hunt for some good queer lit. and was pleased to find some set in an era long past.
The problem, I feel, was twofold - one, the characters were, for the most part, difficult to relate to and their inner monologues often lead me to dislike them, and two, the story seemed to drag to the point where very interesting moments became dull and unending.
The narrator did a superb job. I was a little unsure of her performance when I began the audiobook, but as the story progressed I began to feel that her reading suited the book very well.
I did my best to complete this novel because I did enjoy the plot, but in the end I simply couldn't make myself continue listening. Perhaps I'll pick it up again one day, I rather hope I do for the sake of completion, but if I do I don't doubt that I will find it just as difficult to complete as I have this time.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful