The Night Watch - Sarah Waters

The subsections, pace and intrigue of the story ensure the reader's attention never wanders

Book Review by Caroline Walters | 13 Oct 2006
Waters departs from the intriguing Victorian lesbian underworld that has brought her fame both through her novels and BBC adaptations to WWII-era London.

The 'Night Watch's dramatic shift in style moves away from an end-focused narrative filled with climaxes, sudden plot changes and detective work, as in 'Fingersmith'. Now the detective must work harder, as the tale is told in reverse chronological order, allowing Waters to gradually reveal the intricate web of relationships between initially (seemingly) unconnected characters. This unusual style fits well with the shifting perspective between the four protagonists. Despite its lengthy chapters, the subsections, pace and intrigue of the story ensure that the reader's attention never wanders.

Each of 'The Night Watch's four protagonists are well-drawn and developed, and each reflect different facets of the struggles of the time. Kay skulks around the city wearing mannish clothes, struggling to adjust to post-war civilian life. Helen is stricken with guilt over her lesbian love affairs and grapples with her 'in the closet' mentality. Viv, Helen's assistant at the bureau for finding lovers for lonely ex-soldiers, stubbornly sticks with her secret lover. Duncan, the only male protagonist, battles with his demons.

'The Night Watch' sees a development of Waters' deft writing giving us
another devourable novel. [Caroline Walters]
£16.99, out now.