Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times bestselling novel that has been called a tour de force” (Wall Street Journal), unputdownable” (The Washington Post), a delicious hothouse of a novel” (USA Today), effortless” (The Economist), seductive” (Vanity Fair) and pitch perfect” (Salon)
Forget about Fifty Shades of Grey; this novel is one of the most sensual you will ever read, and all without sacrificing either good taste or a "G" rating” NPR
One of the years most engrossing and suspenseful novels
a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending
Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” Entertainment Weekly (A rating)
Volcanically sexy, sizzingly smart, plenty bloody and just plain irresistible." USA Today (4 stars)
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villaa large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servantslife is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Francess lifeor, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.
Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waterss finest achievement yet.
"Waters (Fingersmith) applies her talent for literary suspense to WWII-era London in her latest historical. She populates the novel with ordinary people overlooked by history books and sets their individual passions against the chaotic background of extraordinary times. There are Kay, a 'night watch' ambulance driver; her lover, Helen; two imprisoned conscientious objectors, upper-class Fraser and working-class Duncan; Duncan's sister, Viv; Viv's married soldier-lover, Reggie; and Julia, a building inspector cum mystery novelist. The novel works backward in time, beginning in 1947, as London emerges from the rubble of war, then to 1944, a time of nightly air raids, and finally to 1941, when the war's end was not in sight. Through all the turmoil on the world stage, the characters steal moments of love, fragments of calm and put their lives on the line for great sex and small kindnesses. Waters's sharply drawn page-turner doesn't quite equal the work of literary greats who've already mapped out WWII-era London. But she matches any of them with her scene of two women on the verge of an affair during a nighttime bombing raid, lost in blackout London with only the light of their passion as a guide." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A cut below this author's superb earlier books, but very much worth reading." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] sophisticated, beautifully written novel by a writer who has reached her maturity. To achieve it, Waters has sacrificed some of the youthful exuberance that made her first three novels such a joy to read. While applauding her talent, I miss the romp." Tracy Chevalier, The Washington Post
"Readers will be tempted to return to the beginning of Waters' elegant novel after turning the final page to fully appreciate the depth of the characters and their connections to each other." Booklist
"Not as dark or lust-filled as her Victorian novels, The Night Watch is still sexually and psychologically provocative. The characters' non-mainstream lifestyle choices breathe new life into a time-honored but time-worn genre." USA Today
"[C]aptivating if occasionally turbulent....For all the vigor and intensity of its prose, The Night Watch leaves us with the sense that both the reader's experience and the characters' lives have been manipulated to suit the author's design." David Leavitt, The New York Times Book Review
"Waters freshens the genre by shining a spotlight on those often overlooked by history buffs....In doing so she gives a splendid and intelligent voice not just to society's fringe, but to a tense moment in history that in our post 9/11 world is a little too familiar." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"Waters has a sure touch and an empathic, but not sentimental style....For the reader who values complex characters and a fine elegiac prose, this novel will not disappoint." Rocky Mountain News
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners three women and a young man with a past whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.
A novel of relationships set in 1940s London that brims with vivid historical detail, thrilling coincidences, and psychological complexity, by the author of the Booker Prize finalist Fingersmith
Sarah Waters, whose works set in Victorian England have awards and acclaim and have reinvigorated the genres of both historical and lesbian fiction, returns with novel that marks a departure from nineteenth century and a spectacular leap forward in the career of this masterful storyteller.
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit liasons, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of Londoners: three women and a young man with a past whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in ways that are surprising not always known to them. In wartime London, the women work as ambulance drivers, ministry clerks, and building inspectors. There are feats of heroism, epic and quotidian, and tragedies both enormous and personal, but the emotional interiors of her characters that Waters captures with absolute and intimacy.
Waters describes with perfect knowingness the taut composure of a rescue worker in the aftermath of a bombing, the idle longing of a young woman for her soldier lover, the peculiar thrill of a convict watching the sky ignite through the bars on his window, the hunger of a woman stalking the streets for an encounter, and the panic of another who sees her love affair coming to an end. At the same time, Waters is in absolute control of a narrative that offers up subtle surprises and exquisite twists, even as it depicts the impact of a grand historical event on individual lives.
Tender, tragic, and beautifully poignant, The Night Watch is a towering achievement that confirms its author as "one of the best storytellers alive today" (Independent on Sunday).
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch
tells the story of four Londoners-three women and a young man with a past-whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.
[A] wonderful novel
Waters is almost Dickensian in her wealth of description and depth of character.”Chicago Tribune
Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londonersthree women and a young man with a pastwhose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.
About the Author
Sarah Waters is the author of Tipping the Velvet, a New York Times Notable Book; Affinity, for which she won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award; and Fingersmith, which was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and for the Man Booker Prize in 2002. In 2003, she was named one of Granta's best British writers under 40.