After her award-winning trilogy of Victorian novels, Sarah Waters turned to the 1940s and wrote THE NIGHT WATCH, a tender and tragic novel set against the backdrop of wartime Britain. Shortlisted for both the Orange and the Man Booker, it went straight to number one in the bestseller chart. In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a ...
After her award-winning trilogy of Victorian novels, Sarah Waters turned to the 1940s and wrote THE NIGHT WATCH, a tender and tragic novel set against the backdrop of wartime Britain. Shortlisted for both the Orange and the Man Booker, it went straight to number one in the bestseller chart. In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his. Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.
Moody and interesting characters, but just didn't take off for me. Her Fearful Symmetry has now set the bar higher for these kinds of stories.
Apr 25, 2010
This was a good ghost story which could have been a great ghost story. I have read one other book by this author, and she is a very talented writer, but since I am not a fan of lesbian/gay fiction I have avoided her books until I saw this one which does not contain that element. I was really looking forward to this one, but found it dissappointing due to uneven pacing and large sections that could have been left out altogether.
The story is told from the perspective of a middle aged, bachelor, country doctor who has pulled himself up from the working class, and only makes a modest living. From his boyhood he has been in awe of a local estate, Hundreds, and manages to ingratiate himself to the remaining members of the family who are struggling to maintain the estate which is gradually deteriorating around them. He eventually manages to get himself engaged to the plain spinster daughter. Disturbing things begin happening in the house; strange marks on walls, items "moving" inexplicably, strange sounds "teasing" the occupants from room to room, fires, and more until people are driven to madness or suicide. Caroline, the daughter, reads about a theory that an individuals subconcious can somehow cause these things to happen, that a "little stranger" can be released from an individual unknowingly. Caroline suspects her mentally disturbed brother, but by the end of the book you will suspect someone else entirely.
I wish I could give this four or even five stars because the story itself is great. Unfortunately it just drags in too many places, and as other reviewers have pointed out, could have used some editing by a hundred or more pages. Too Bad! Otherwise great.
Oct 28, 2009
Really hooked me
I agree with many of the other reviewers who felt pulled in and involved in this story. I loved and enjoyed the supernatural elements, but they are not the main story, though they lurk beneath everything that happens, and certainly will raise goosebumps. There is a mystery here to be unraveled, but it ends up being somewhat ambiguous. I don't mind, since the narrator Faraday sees what he can see through the lens of "rational" thinking and his subjective experience; the reader can read in other things and take another point of view, and most likely will. Most interesting. The book really pulled me forward and kept me up late at night and reading fully engrossed in noisy situations where I normally would be distracted. A good sign! The characters are sympathetic in most every case, and the tragedy of the Ayers family imbues the entire tale with melancholy and longing. A great book which I highly recommend.
Publishers Weekly, 2009-03-30 Waters (The Night Watch) reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Doctor Faraday, a lonely bachelor, first visited Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked as a parlor maid, at age 10 in 1919. When Faraday returns 30 years later to treat a servant, he becomes obsessed with Hundreds's elegant owner, Mrs. Ayres; her 24-year-old son, Roderick, an RAF airman wounded during the war who now oversees the family farm; and her slightly older daughter, Caroline, considered a "natural spinster" by the locals, for whom the doctor develops a particular fondness. Supernatural trouble kicks in after Caroline's mild-mannered black Lab, Gyp, attacks a visiting child. A damaging fire, a suicide and worse follow. Faraday, one of literature's more unreliable narrators, carries the reader swiftly along to the devastating conclusion. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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