women, war, glbt, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, britain-england, historical-fiction, wwii
Recommended to Bettie by: gift from my husband
Read in April, 2009
** spoiler alert ** I've just finished The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce A Novel in Four Vintages which was a story told backwards, and have opened this to find it is also a story told backwards to end at it's beginning. Coincidences never happen in ones do they?
Opening sentence 1947, chapter 1: So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you've become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord's door.
There is a paragraph on page 99 that explains the retrogradation employed in this tale:
'I go to the cinema,' says Kay; 'there's nothing funny about that. Sometimes I sit through the films twice over. Sometimes I go in half-way through, and watch the second half first. I almost prefer them that way - people's pasts, you know, being so much more interesting than their futures.'
It was also a pertinent point (page 320) to have Helen reading Fisherman's Creek where the synopsis of that book is The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will alter the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love -- and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. It is this Dona who flees the stews of London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves -- in the love of a daring pirate hunted by all Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy.
I did quite enjoy this. It started very slowly, the way the story was written she took excerpts from people's lives going backwards in time, 1947, 1943 and then 1941. So it started with people being miserable and then slowly discovering why. Overall it still felt a bit too modern and not really written in the time, in particular the way people talked and acted.
While I enjoyed the characterisation I did feel that most of the characters were a little pathetic or annoying. The younger brother in jail in particular felt like a waste. But there were some rather brilliant scenes. The two women walking through the Holborn to the City in the blackout really stood out. There was definitely some interesting and intense things in this book though overall I felt it was lacking. I think this is largely my problem with historical fiction in general, particularly an era which is written about already by people who were there. But it seems to make much more sense to read books by people from that time than people imagining what that time was like, no matter how extensive their research. The historian in me just always prefers the primary literature.
Having said that I will probably pick up her other novels as I come across them in second hand book shops as I do like books about lesbians....Continua
I have to say that I love Sarah Waters... Tipping the Velvet is one of my favourite books of all times and Fingersmith is just...perfect. Given this, I was unable to stop and let this overwhelming admiration drain out before approaching another of Water's book. I approached the book not as one per se but as one within a brilliant saga: the possibility of being disappointed were exceptionally high. And I felt a bit let down as it is not as thrilling as the previous two. It convey a more subtle set of emotions that slowly but steadily grow into you. Her prose though is still amazing: she can convey the smells the lights and the horror of London within war time. This is not only the result of her fantastic way of writing but also of her detailed and accurate research that, at the end of the book she, so generously acknowledge...
title in Italian: Turno di Notte
"...whenyou were well, you never thought about being well, you could only really feel what it was like to be healthy for about a minute, when you stopped being sick. But when you were sick, it made you into a stranger, a foreigner in your own land. Everything that was simple and ordinary to everyone else became like an enemy to you. Your own body became like an enemy to you, plotting and scheming against you and setting traps..."...Continua
After finishing Sarah Waters' The Night Watch, I immediately went out to buy all her previous works. The Night Watch showcased the talents of Waters, putting her in the same league as Ian McEwan and David Mitchell.
The Night Watch is a story revolving around 4 persons in wartime England, namely Kay, Helen, Viv and Duncan. What makes the book so special is the structure of the story: it started in 1947 (the end of the plot) and ended in 1941 (the beginning of the plot).
The relationships among the 4 protagonists were complicated. As the story was narrated backwards, you would solve many of the mysteries that you have read earlier on as you proceed along. It's a really fascinating and enjoyable experience.
Meticulously researched, The Night Watch also gave a vivid and disturbing account of the bombing of London during WWII. Waters' writing is fluid and poetic. Among the 6 novels shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, this is my favourite. It's a pity that it finally lost to The Inheritance of Loss.
Superb and highly recommended.
P.S. Waters' works are of the homosexual genre. Some of the scenes in the book are quite explicit. Not for those who have got an issue with gay/lesbian writing....Continua