The Night Watch. This is a somewhat hefty book (thought I wouldn't call it a chunkster at only 524 pages) but I rushed through it in just a couple of days, intrigued by the unique story structure and drawn in by the well-developed characters.
This is a book in three parts -- beginning in 1947, moving back in time to 1944 and then concluding in 1941. The main characters are Viv and Helen, who work at a post-war matchmaking agency, Duncan, who is Viv's younger brother, works at a night-light factory and has been to prison, and Kay, a lesbian who appears to be entirely alone and aimless. What could have been an overly tedious journey through the lives of these men and women has instead become a series of moments that create the people that you meet at the beginning of the story. Then things that you might have assumed are proved wrong and characters that you might have liked are proved to be weak, selfish or worse when you finally learn about their pasts.
I have heard both good and bad opinions of this book. I am definitely on the side that enjoyed the story and found it to be a very strong novel. I didn't find it to be boring or confusing and I appreciated the decision to tell it in such a unique timeline. It also turned out to be very interesting to read this book so soon after the Henrietta novels. Where those represented the war as experienced by English villagers and was bittersweet and funny, this was the gritty and gruesome story of those in London, living through the worst horrors of the war and trying to navigate life after it. I will admit that I am exhausted by WWII right now, though, and this is part of why I will be escaping into fantasy for a while.
Exploring the intersection,
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