Book report: The Night Watch, Sarah Waters

Slightly a cheat as I started this last year. Anyhow, I was interested and surprised at the mix between “period” writing and contemporary feels. I’d never seen any Waters adaptations so vaguely knew that there would be lesbians involved in some way. Like Sense 8 and other great TV be made now, the key is in having multiples of what used to be seen as wholly “other”. So multiple lesbians here, multiple women with distinct personalities, was great. We don’t get many books like this.
It was surprisingly violent and sexual but the latter was a bit coy for me. It made me wonder about following a particular genre of romance writing or of our idea of what kind of sex people had in the past. You know, unmessy. We didn’t see messy sex on TV til Girls. Please tell me if I’m wrong! 

Strangely, I could not picture the women in much detail apart from blonde, dark, tall, short hair. It made me think of the butch and femmes and what the history of this in England is. I wonder about this device of not over describing the women and I think perhaps I prefer it. Though why the blonde one stood out as being the “weakest” niggles with me slightly.  I liked how there were no villains. 

There was no exploration of how the blonde starts of as straight and then not, and it disturbs me, not necessarily in a bad way, that she is the object of desire for two other women but seems utterly lost herself. 

Maybe while the multiplicity of stories is a strong thing, I wanted more of a through line, a clearer point. The male storylines seem fuzzy to me and I wasn’t sure what to make of the Christian Science line – I am willing to admit that the patchy way in which I read this book possibly means I didn’t pay it enough attention. 

Anyway, I wouldn’t say no to bringing a Sarah Waters book on holiday with me. 

Book 4: This is the beginning of a year of reading more women writers and writers of colour. I’ll make brief notes on what I’ve read and note some questions and thoughts which each piece has provoke in me.

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