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.
©2006 Sarah Waters; (P)2006 Time Warner AudioBooks
"A truthful, lovely book that needs no conjuring tricks to make you want to read it again." (Observer)
"Brilliantly done....A tour-de-force of hints, clues, and dropped threads." (Independent on Sunday)
"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 ....
"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.
This is my first foray into Waters territory, and what a wonderful experience it was. At first I found the atmosphere a little gloomy and overcast, the characters rather macabre, but I was soon won over by the sheer brilliance of the writing. Waters ought to be used a paragon in all creative writing classes. The woman does not put a foot wrong. Her language, while never flamboyant, is so perfectly poised that reading her words is like watching a film, so exactly do they conjure up what she is describing.
The characters were so vivid, so unforgettable, so wonderfully human, that I felt quite bereaved when I came to the end. But even more compelling was Water's evocation of wartime Britain, and London during the air raids. It was truly like being there yourself.
In short, quite, quite wonderful. Merits every superlative you can think of.
And a word for the narrator. I've listened to quite a few audiobooks and this was by far the best narrated of any, by a huge margin. McMahon's ability to distinguish a huge cast of characters through voice and accent is unparallelled, and she is one of the few female narrators who can do a man's voice utterly convincingly. A virtuoso performance she should be sincerely proud of.
Wonderfully engaging characters; I loved the way details were gradually revealed, mysteries explained and misconceptions corrected.
I was taken aback when I realised that we were going backwards in time. Once I'd adjusted to that, though, I found this to be a fascinating meditation on how the characters reached their rather dull starting points - and of course, an interesting depiction of the way WWII affected ordinary people in Britain.
"Slow but steady ... tends to leave you behind"
This was a rare occasion I 'set aside' an audiobook to listen to another one before taking it up again when I had run out of others. It isn't a bad book, it is just slow. It is hard to engage with the characters (despite the narrator's myriad of 'voices') and although I had started to engage more after a few hours listening, I still found myself drifting in places and I would come back to the book having missed 10 minutes.
The characters were mostly low-key and self-effacing, which while it might have been true to that time period and may well have reflected social attitudes accurately, didn't gve me much incentive to switch on the next time.
"I never wanted it to end"
This book is so atmospheric that I never wanted it to end.
My mother was a child at the time that the main characters were young women, but the values and experiences of this generation reverberated down the decades and I felt a real connection to the characters and their experiences. There is so much detail about what it was like to be living your life during and after the second world war that I was captivated. It felt like English roots. It was really fascinating to hear the experiences of these women in the 1940's ... a wonderful book.
btw, I also loved Fingersmith, but I liked this even more.
"The Night Watch"
This book seemed to start quite slowly, and I wasn't sure where it was heading. By the time I finished listening to it I was gutted it was over!
The quality of the narration is second to none, I have listened to hundreds of hours of audiobooks and this is the best story teller I have experienced!
"The Night Watch"
I listened to this book some time ago now, and have only just gotten around to writing a review, so the detail of it will be lost somewhat as the memory fades.
I listened to the story in several stints over a considerable period of time. I found the narrator engaging and her portrayal of the story interesting.
The story itself is along set in a war torn London and reminded me somewhat of a Mary Wesley novel (pick anyone you like.... but the camomile lawn springs to mind) The writing was such that I was transported to the era and found myself absorbed on my relatively short roadtrips.
If you have enjoyed the writings of Wesley then I would thoroughly recommend this as an absorbing and enjoyable listen.
"Weird and compelling"
I'm really glad I heard this as an audio book rather than reading it, otherwise I might have been tempted to skip back and forwards to try to work out what the heck was going on. The reverse timeline was possibly a bit too clever, but dealing with effects before causes did give the story an unusual kind of depth.
Particularly compelling was the author's depiction of a relationship that is falling apart, and the weird little things people do when the worst happens.
This is by far the best book I have ever listened to on audiobooks. Despite the 20hour long story I couldn't put it down. The characters were realistic and the narrator so easy to listen to. It is now easy to picture exactly how London was during the blitz, together with the hardships suffered by the people.Thoroughly enjoyable.
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