THE NIGHT WATCH by Sarah Waters (2006) – read in September 2009


Sarah Waters sets The Night Watch at the time of the second world war and the years immediately following. The book is structured in reverse chronological order ( a novel idea) and consequently much of the relevance of the twists of the plot may be missed initially until they are revealed as the book progresses. It is not often you feel you must quickly turn to the beginning of the book as soon as it is finished but it happens here.


The story is told via the four main characters linked by wartime experiences and their relationships. The group thought the book deftly written with believable characters. Where the style of writing was somewhat listless it reflected the trauma and stale existence of the characters who felt there was little purpose in their lives post war . The main part of the book relates the varied happenings of the characters during the war – voluntary medical aid in the blitz, conscientious objectors, life in prison, love affairs and the austerity of the time. It is realistic and well researched.


Generally we thought the book a worthwhile read but thought the explicit descriptions of sexual activities added little. This book has been highly praised by critics as have her previous three books. Waters states they may be considered as “lesbian romps”. This book included lesbian relationships but is certainly too serious to be termed a romp.