Sarah Waters, whose works set in Victorian England have awards and acclaim and have reinvigorated the genres of both historical and lesbian fiction, returns with novel that marks a departure from nineteenth century and a spectacular leap forward in the career of this masterful storyteller.
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liasons, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of Londoners: three women and a young man with a past-whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in ways that are surprising not always known to them. In wartime London, the women work-as ambulance drivers, ministry clerks, and building inspectors. There are feats of heroism, epic and quotidian, and tragedies both enormous and personal, but the emotional interiors of her characters that Waters captures with absolute and intimacy.
Waters describes with perfect knowingness the taut composure of a rescue worker in the aftermath of a bombing, the idle longing of a young woman her soldier lover, the peculiar thrill convict watching the sky ignite through the bars on his window, the hunger a woman stalking the streets for encounter, and the panic of another who sees her love affair coming end. At the same time, Waters is absolute control of a narrative that offers up subtle surprises and exquisite twists, even as it depicts the impact grand historical event on individual lives.
"Tender, tragic, and beautifully poignant, The Night Watch is a towering achievement that confirms its author as "one of the best storytellers alive today" (Independent on Sunday).
"In this moody, atmospheric novel, Man Booker Prize nominee Waters (Fingersmith) moves past the demimonde of Victorian England to World War II and its aftermath. The lives of four Londoners-Viv, Kay, Helen, and Duncan-intersect as they cope with the war and their personal lives over the course of six years. Each character is trapped by past events having trouble adjusting to peace after so much physical and personal destruction. Viv can't move past a troubled relationship; Kay seeks a purpose in life after the heroism of driving an ambulance; Helen is consumed with jealousy for her lover (and Kay's ex), Julia; and Duncan, having spent much of the war incarcerated, remains in a prison of his own making. Waters's depiction of daily life during the shelling-the random deaths, privations, and breakdowns in social roles between class and gender-is vivid and compelling. Night Watch is structurally more complex than her previous works, but the astonishing period detail and focus on the forgotten corners of society remain. Highly recommended for all fiction collections." Library Journal
Shortlisted for Orange Prize 2006.
Shortlisted for Booker Prize for Fiction 2006.
Shortlisted for British Book Awards: Book of the Year 2007.
Shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction) 2007.
Thrice crowned 2003 Author of the Year - by the Booksellers Association, Waterstone's and The British Book Awards. Winner of The South Bank Show Award, Sunday Times Author of the Year, The Somerset Maugham Award and the CWA. Shortlisted for the Man Booker