The Night Watch: First Impressions
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Almost done with the 1947 section. I'm really loving the complicated characters and how Waters keeps parts of the story hidden from view (was this intentional to mimic her characters?)
Well, it's intentional, but whether it was thematic as you suggest or just a gimmick is hard to say. It was certainly too gimmicky for me.
Sarah Waters powerful sense of description, to me, rivals Dickens and Hardy. I feel and see the time, place and people sharply. And yet there are moments of humor not always expected (such as the Sweeney Todd/barber jokes in 1947:One.) I feel that descriptions of the commonplace objects, whether broken or whole, really complete the picture of the time we are being immersed in. The depth in the writing of these characters lives, through the description of the locations and time, is at times almost overwhelming to me. I love the voyeuristic, omnipresent point of view. This book seems to be a movie in words to me.
There seems to be a thread moving through the section of the need to keep sexual lives secret from others you meet in the society of the time. I this harkening back to the Victorian & Edwardian time a consequence of the conflagration just gone through by England and the Empire? This thread of hidden sexualiy and eroticism propels this section; along with the telling of the complications and relationships of our four main characters. I really liked the asides referring to the lack of courtesy and politeness on the street and in the inner worlds of London. These help to show what drives our characters in their movement through their lives.
I can't wait to have the back stories of our four be filled in more completely as we move backwards in time.
I do recall the writing being generally pretty good, the precision of picking details of physical descriptions and emotions and thoughts well done.
I don't know if some readers might find the jumping between character's points of view distracting to the flow, and the author intentionally leaves out information early on creating mysteries to be cleared up as the story progresses, which is both a little confusing but also helps to make you want to read to clear things up.
The characters are nicely drawn though, and very clearly defined. I had a few minor quibbles which of course I can't recall now, and I was disappointed when I reached the end of the section to realize that we were going back in time next, and not forward. I have a slight interest in knowing how these characters came to be, but more in where they're heading.
I've held off reading on, but maybe I should go back and skim the 1947 section again. Hopefully more discussion will burble up.
I feel real movement in the story, even though you might say there's not a whole lot "happening," exactly.
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Homosexuality was still considered both a crime and a mental illness in Britain in 1947. You could be sent to an insane asylum or goal at hard labor. Of course people kept it a secret.
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Are there other online book groups out there that would be a better fit for me? Thanks everybody. Enjoy the rest of Night Watch.
Knowing that the story's being read back in time, I'm watching carefully for any foreshadowing that might lead to the story's chronological past. Take, for example, the old mill Reggie and Vivian visit--the describing of the rusty cans, the silvery bottles, where someone had a fire...I'm curious to see if that pops up further along. It's definitely sparking my imagination about what might have happened there, if we'll read that any of the characters were there in the past, more-so than if the story was being read forward in time I think.
One type of book discussion, which we could do here, is where some people are commenting section-by-section, but there is also a spoiler topic where people who have finished can start talking. You could start a spoiler thread yourself, or ask kristilabrie to start one.
I really enjoy Waters' descriptive style. She brings in lots of ordinary-but-interesting details, and the characters' emotions feel entirely real and compelling to me.
I don't know a whole lot about life in WWII-era London, so I'm learning some history along the way.
Heading onward into 1944!