This was a great book to read. It is the story of several characters living their lives in London during the period of the war – some of their actions and the difficulties they face are influenced by the effects of war, but many are just the characters making normal mistakes, concealing secrets, having relationships, and living their normal lives. There are some very strong and admirable women characters in the book that are taking on the jobs of men and facing danger and distressing scenes, and showing enormous bravery and courage.

The book is very cleverly done as it is told in reverse, i.e. the reader meets the characters in 1947 and then learns about how they were living their lives in 1944 and then 1941. If I’d have realised this beforehand I think I would have decided it was gimmicky and annoying, however I would have had to eat my words as it worked beautifully. I found that things fell into place; two characters would be meeting in 1947 and when reading it there seemed little significance in their meeting, but then after reading about their earlier lives my eyes were opened. I did find I often flicked back to the 1947 section, particularly in Viv’s and Kay’s case who were both characters I greatly cared for, in order to fully understand their actions and also to remind myself whether their endings were happy and positive or sad and heartbreaking (as we’d obviously found out their endings without understanding fully their beginnings).

I think Sarah Waters has written the characters extremely well; they were all connected slightly although the reader only understands their connections as the book goes on. I found I really did care deeply for all the characters, each of them were fascinating people and their decisions and dilemmas were detailed so accurately and realistically.

I also very much enjoyed the insight into the people left behind in the war; the women working in typically men’s roles and showing enormous courage, and the men in jail also showing huge courage. I felt the book also really brought home to me how devastating the war was with details of the individual houses bombed and the loss of life, and also if the resident survived then the heartbreaking realisation they faced that they’d lost everything and of how longwinded the system was in helping them and giving them support.

I think this is a remarkable book and one that really impressed me; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and was sad to reach the end.

The Night Watch (Paperback)

By (author): Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters, the award-winning author of three novels set in Victorian London, returns with a stunning novel that marks a departure from the 19th century.
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