The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

July 21, 2010 at 12:10 am 4 comments

I hate to admit it, readers, but I was bored by this book.

And I was so surprised to be bored!  Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet kept me enthralled the whole way through, so I kept reading this book, thinking it was going to get more interesting. The characters, who all seem to be part of an interconnected social web in WWII-era London, showed promise.

Duncan the ex-con intrigued me — why was he in jail? Vivien intrigued me — why was she with this married man who didn’t seem to like her all that much? And who was Kay, who dressed like a man, and why was she alone and miserable?

The answers to these questions, though, seemed overly simple and even a little predictable. Without the frank, lovable heroine Tipping the Velvet had and without a complex narrative like Fingersmith, The Night Watch fell short for me. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and despite much bombing of London and many torrid affairs, I still felt as though Waters was, for lack of a better term, phoning it in.

That being said, I still think Waters is a fantastic writer. Anyone who can write something like Fingersmith cannot be written off on the sole basis of one book I didn’t enjoy. And it’s possible Waters was trying to do something that I just didn’t get; sometimes I’m just a very obtuse reader, and I may have missed something. I’ll still read The Little Stranger, and I’m sure it will be delightful.

The Night Watch is maybe a book worth borrowing — but, sadly, I’d save your money and purchase Fingersmith if you’re set on owning a Waters book.


Entry filed under: Historical Fiction. Tags: , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Iris  |  July 21, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I still have to read any novel by Sarah Waters (I’m planning to read one soon!) but I couldn’t resist commenting because I recently bought the Night Watch. I’m sorry to hear you thought it was boring..

  • 2. anothercookiecrumbles  |  July 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I adored Fingersmith, and don’t think Waters can match that again. I’m still to read Tipping The Velvet, and after reading your thoughts on this book, I think I’ll enjoy that as well.

    The Night Watch, on the other hand, is my least favourite novel by Waters. Like you said, one can’t relate with most of the characters (although I did like Kay in the second and third chunk of the book), and I was intrigued by them. However, there was just something missing in this book, which made me feel as though I wish I’d not read it.

    Oh well – I just think how good Fingersmith was, and then feel much better about reading this!

    • 3. Kate  |  July 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      I think a plot was missing! :P Just kidding — but Fingersmith was clearly Waters’ masterpiece.

  • 4. In My Mailbox: 7/25 « Iris on Books  |  July 25, 2010 at 2:39 am

    […] Night Watch – Sarah Waters: Apparantly, this is not the best Waters has ever written. But I didn’t know that yet when I picked it up. I have never read anything by Waters and I […]


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