The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters has fast become one of my favorite writers. I never seem to go wrong with one of her works–they are richly descriptive, with fully realized characters, settings, and complex plots. The Night Watch is no exception. Taking a different route, Waters spins this tale in retrospect, taking the reader back in time through the relationships and personal histories of a troubled cast of characters, amid the backdrop of WWII England. The storylines are subtle and clues often have to be inferred as the reader catches glimpses of the events and experiences that brought Kay, Helen, Viv, and Duncan together, however briefly. As these individuals experience the disorienting reality of wartime, their stories become loosely intertwined. As a result, the narratives often seem more like vignettes than a connected plot. This might be disorienting for some readers, but can also prove captivating as details are revealed and relationships unraveled in reverse.
In a sense, the narrative reads like a series of journals or letters discovered long after the events outlined have occurred. The reader is like a historian seeking answers and traveling back in time through other people’s experiences. While not my favorite Waters novel (that honor still goes to Fingersmith), this was another great read with plenty of historical detail.