Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Night Watch

I thought that this was a very competently written book, set during the second world war and in 1947. It gave several very vivid pictures of the period from the different standpoints of the main characters, all of them interlinked. A novel from a lesbian author, with a strong, but not entirely lesbian theme. The images of the bombardment of London, the destruction and the blackout are powerful, as are the conditions of prison life. The lesbian lifestyle is enlightening and the need to keep both this and the then illegal homosexuality secret, gave a strong flavour of the mores of the era.

Sarah Waters tries to include as many social issues as possible, including conscientious objectors and the conditions in the prisons, illegal abortions the stigma of pregnancy outside marriage. Quite a feast and rather an overload. I agree that the sense of period is very strong, a skill that the author used in her previous books and also that the need to tie in all the ends became rather trying. Largely, I think, because there were so many ends to tie.

Rather long and exhausting, but a jolly good read.