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The Night Watch (2006)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0501462,212 (3.68)1 / 543
Former ambulance driver Kay lives life fast, wandering the war-torn streets and hunting for other women. Kind and clever Helen guards her secrets--and her lover--closely. Glamorous Viv remains utterly devoted, for better or worse, to the soldier she adores. And Duncan fights to make a new life for himself after spending time in prison. As these four people survive the devastation of war and the experience life's dizzying highs, their paths cross in ways none of them can forsee.… (more)
  1. 60
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (withwill)
  2. 10
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (rstaedter)
  3. 10
    Fault Lines by Nancy Huston (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Both employ reverse chronology to tell a story with its roots in WWII
  4. 10
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (debbiereads)
  5. 00
    The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison (mrstreme)
  6. 00
    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (ebr_aumkw, kgriffith)
  7. 13
    The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: both have female protagonists and are about the London Blitz during WWII
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» See also 543 mentions

English (137)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 137 (next | show all)
Starting in 1947 The Night Watch tells the story, in reverse chronology, of various people in and around London during the Blitz. Their stories progress by going backwards in time, so that when we leave them they have it all to experience. Their loves and losses, the air raids and rations, these things are all ahead of the characters. They have yet to become who they were when we met them at the start of the novel.

As for that the story is about? Well, it is about people. People and relationships and just plain living. And the war, but the war is more of a backdrop to the story of Kay, Helen, Julia, Duncan and Viv. They don’t all know one another, but their stories and lives intersect over the course of the book.

I originally picked this up because the only other Sarah Waters’ book I’d read1 was a wonderful creepy read. Perfect for last year’s RIP challenge. I was browsing for something to pick up at the library and came across this. The title sounded vaguely possibly horror/creepy. But it doesn’t fit, not really, so I won’t be counting it as an RIP read this year.

I really enjoyed The Little Stranger but I had problems with the ending. And although I loved the style of writing here, it really is so evocative and so wonderfully descriptive, the story seemed to be almost undone by the manner in which it was told. We slowly get to know these characters, but only through their pasts and how that haunts them, or affects them, and then we learn about those haunting events, but then … nothing. We end at the beginning. I was left feeling as though it was all a bit pointless. I got to know them only to learn why they were, in some cases, broken and bent by the world, but because I was experiencing their lives in reverse it seemed like all I read about was moot because in the end it had yet to happen. Also, and it isn’t a spoiler, because it is from the early chapters, but they are all unhappy and weary and dispirited in so many ways at the start of the book. But that is where they are heading, so no matter how the book ends, because it ends in the past, that it where they will end up. And that isn’t a very uplifting sort of thought.

Not that a book has to end happily ever after, but it would be nice if there was some sort of growth towards happiness. There are hints I think, that steps are being taken, but because I met the characters at the end of the arc, rather than the beginning, it didn’t have the impact on me had I experienced their story in something more linear.

I also found it very difficult to keep the characters straight in my head. I was constantly starting a section and trying to figure out which one was Kay again, and was it Helen that was the sister, or the jealous lover…

I do sometimes have issues with character names though, so that might be a failing on my reading rather than the book itself.

Despite that negativity I think that The Night Watch probably turns into a better book the more you think about it. And a reread would be very rewarding indeed. ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
I got really caught up in the characters, but I didn't like the way the book went backwards in time - it made for a few nifty reveals, but I still want to know what happens NEXT. ( )
  ansate | Oct 21, 2020 |
Yet another book of Waters' that I've loved. This is a little different to her other books, and not only in terms of the era. Time-wise, it goes backwards, and the character focus is broader than the first three novels.

Probably not my favourite, but still a very worth-while read. ( )
  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
Boring, totally unintertesting book. I tried to read it twice. There are too many characters, and none of the characters come to life. There is no plot. It doesn't even feel as if the book is set in the 1940s. ( )
  edwinbcn | Dec 23, 2019 |
I listened to this one on audiobook. This is one of Waters' less fanciful novels, set during and after WW2 in London. It moves backwards through 3 time periods, illuminating the connections and actions of the several characters and their personal disasters. At times I would smile or gasp while listening in the dark, her stories seem so real.
( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 137 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Acqua, Giancarlo Dell'Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Adler, SigalTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Almazán, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
中村有希訳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bingül, FigenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brandt, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Camp, Marion Op denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danielsson, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Defossé, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dewey, AmandaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
藍涓Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gawlik-Małkowska, MagdalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houstrup, VibekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Κορτώ, ΑύγουστοςTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parés, NúriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puchalská, Barbora PungeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voss, AndreaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vujačić, PetarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, GabrieleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Сафронова, АлександраTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Lucy Vaughan
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So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you've become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord's door.
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"But, isn't it funny -- we never seem to love the people we ought to."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Former ambulance driver Kay lives life fast, wandering the war-torn streets and hunting for other women. Kind and clever Helen guards her secrets--and her lover--closely. Glamorous Viv remains utterly devoted, for better or worse, to the soldier she adores. And Duncan fights to make a new life for himself after spending time in prison. As these four people survive the devastation of war and the experience life's dizzying highs, their paths cross in ways none of them can forsee.

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The book under this ISBN is by Sergei Lukyanenko. Please do not combine it with the one by Sarah Waters.
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