Customer Reviews for

The Night Watch

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
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5 Star

(10)

4 Star

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

The Night Watch

This is elegant and complex and a compelling story. It evokes the subtleties of relationships, the little lies and hide-and-seek one plays with oneselves and one's partners. She creates such a vivid atmosphere of the war in London and the sense of displacement and ennui...
This is elegant and complex and a compelling story. It evokes the subtleties of relationships, the little lies and hide-and-seek one plays with oneselves and one's partners. She creates such a vivid atmosphere of the war in London and the sense of displacement and ennui that followed. The fact that some the characters are in homosexual relationship is purely incidental. It is the universal qualities of the human relationships that create these memorable characters. Anyone looking for a titilating read, however, will be disappointed. I hope straight readers don't miss this book biased by Water's reputation as a"lesbian writer." She is a bloody good writer, and this straight reader recommends this book 5 stars.

posted by readtolive_livetoread on September 24, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Interesting characters, but no big revelations

I discovered Sarah Waters for myself when I picked up Fingersmith and simply couldn't put it down. I followed up that novel with Affinity, and although it had a far more tragic storyline, I found it yet again filled with fascinating characters and surprising twists and ...
I discovered Sarah Waters for myself when I picked up Fingersmith and simply couldn't put it down. I followed up that novel with Affinity, and although it had a far more tragic storyline, I found it yet again filled with fascinating characters and surprising twists and turns in the plot. However, while Night Watch was great on well-formed, multi-layered and interesting characters, the plot was less to be desired. I found myself genuinely interested in where each of the character's stories were going, and was particularly intrigued by the backwards storyline where you start at the end of their tales and work your way to the beginning--but there were not that many suprising revelations, no big jolt at the end as in the other two novels. Set in London prior to, during, and just after WWII, Night Watch is a change from Waters' other novels, which take place in England's Victorian mid to late 1800's, and, as in her other novels, the time period appears to be well researched. Addtionally, This book also gets more heavily into the lesbian relationships of some of the main characters, which were discussed much more discreetly (i.e. Victorian-like) in Fingersmith and Affinity. It is worth reading alone for the historical peek at the time period.

posted by JustMyTwoCents on March 5, 2010

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  • Posted September 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Night Watch

    This is elegant and complex and a compelling story. It evokes the subtleties of relationships, the little lies and hide-and-seek one plays with oneselves and one's partners. She creates such a vivid atmosphere of the war in London and the sense of displacement and ennui that followed. The fact that some the characters are in homosexual relationship is purely incidental. It is the universal qualities of the human relationships that create these memorable characters. Anyone looking for a titilating read, however, will be disappointed. I hope straight readers don't miss this book biased by Water's reputation as a"lesbian writer." She is a bloody good writer, and this straight reader recommends this book 5 stars.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A superb look at WWII and its aftermath

    By 1947, the war has been over for two years, but London is still reeling from the bombings and the deaths, and trying to convert to a post war economy. Everyday people struggle with finding their place in life. Kay drove an ambulance during the war and had a female lover Helen, but the men are back from the western front and so she is expected to quietly do female work or get married. Helen cannot deal with her past female lovers as she is filled with jealousy, but like Kay the men are back so she must return to the closet. Duncan spent the war in prison so though freed physically is incarcerated in his mind as he cannot let go of what happened to him during the war. Finally his sister Viv loves a married soldier, Reggie, who she feels returns her regard, but can never leave his wife. ----- - THE NIGHT WATCH is a superb look at WWII and its aftermath through the eyes of ordinary people expected to return to normalcy now that the hostilities are over. The story line reverses chronological order by starting in 1947 (after the war is over) going back to 1944 (the end seems in sight) and finally 1941 (the war has just begun and looks dark and foreboding). The cast is powerfully drawn so that the audience can observe how each member of the ensemble and others who touched their lives struggle with going back to who they were in the 1930s when they have seen and done so much.----- Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a story uncovered

    I read the blurb on the back of the cover of this book and found myself intrigued by the idea that it might end with its beginning. My only reason for not reading earlier was that the book is long and I'm in a lets-read-short-books phase. But the story is actually split into three parts, so I fooled myself into treating each part as a short book, and then I couldn't put it down. I found I really did want to find out what a story told backwards would feel like. And I like the result.

    The setting was certainly of interest to me-1940s London. I've heard of the air-raids from family members, of shelters, the sounds of bombs, the darkened streets. And there's quite a cast of fascinating characters, all nicely delineated. Occasionally I'd wonder, now where did I meet her, but only in the same sense as I might out on the street, soon realizing who it was and eager to learn what happened next-or what happened in the past. There were mysteries neatly set up in the earliest part, relationships with pasts half-told and the promise of learning more.

    It's actually quite an interesting way to uncover a story, retreating through time and wondering. After all, we usually get to know who people are before we learn who they were. What intrigued me most was how complete the story felt when the mysteries were told, though the future stayed unknown. Like life, but in a good way.

    In fact, the whole novel feels very complete despite the uncertain future. The characters have settled in my mind. I know them, more than I ever would in real life. I like them for all that they're not like me, and it's not just time and war that separates. I'm glad the world has changed and I hope it changes more, and I want the best for those who inherit their dreams.

    SALON.COM says the novel "chronicles love, sex, and obsession." It chronicles much more, and it invites the reader to know and understand in a way few novels can, by adding the danger of war and that aspect of change that unsettles enough to leave the mind half-open. I can smell the broken buildings, the ash and the dust, and see the gifts of childhood lost and torn. And I love this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting characters, but no big revelations

    I discovered Sarah Waters for myself when I picked up Fingersmith and simply couldn't put it down. I followed up that novel with Affinity, and although it had a far more tragic storyline, I found it yet again filled with fascinating characters and surprising twists and turns in the plot. However, while Night Watch was great on well-formed, multi-layered and interesting characters, the plot was less to be desired. I found myself genuinely interested in where each of the character's stories were going, and was particularly intrigued by the backwards storyline where you start at the end of their tales and work your way to the beginning--but there were not that many suprising revelations, no big jolt at the end as in the other two novels. Set in London prior to, during, and just after WWII, Night Watch is a change from Waters' other novels, which take place in England's Victorian mid to late 1800's, and, as in her other novels, the time period appears to be well researched. Addtionally, This book also gets more heavily into the lesbian relationships of some of the main characters, which were discussed much more discreetly (i.e. Victorian-like) in Fingersmith and Affinity. It is worth reading alone for the historical peek at the time period.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    Still Watching

    Though the novel is well researched and well written, the characters and their story lines are only mildly compelling, especially for readers hooked by 'Tipping the Velvet' and 'Fingersmith.' It is the WW2 context that stands out in this novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    The Night Watch

    Sarah Waters is an amazing writer and story teller. She weaves the characters together in such a way that sometimes i forget who is who and where they are - but that is the way she writes - going back and forth, introducing new scenes and building to a fabulous ending. Her writing is most always from a Victorian London/England era - which is always interesting to me - a bit dark - compelling and a cliff hanger. I have read most of her books and seen some of the movies. Fingersmith is amazing - Touching the Velvet and Affinity is great too. The cinema - photography is wonderful - putting the visual in AFTER you read the book is always good. Her characters become real - with real feelings and experiences - especially given the time and the era. Somewhat erotic, but tastefully done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Love this!

    Like all of waters books the plot and characters are highly developed. I love how she is able to write books that contain lesbians, but the entire plot isnt the tired and over used coming out story or curious and bored housewife. This book is rrally amazing and heartbreaking. I definitely recommed it.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    Huh?

    I love Sarah Waters' books. This one left me a bit mystified. The writer moves the plot back in time and leaves out a lot of detail, which left me wondering at each backward shift...but how did? and were they? and how did they get from there to here? I did love her accurate description of life in wwII england. Historically, I was moved by the suffering of the English and their sacrifices.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    Loved It

    Characters you can love and a story that keeps you fascinated...what else could you want? I couldn't put it down.

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    Posted February 19, 2011

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