Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

"I go to the cinema," said Kay; ... "Sometimes I go in half-way through, and watch the second half first. I almost prefer them that way -- people's pasts, you know, being so much more interesting than their futures. Or perhaps that's just me..."

This book is set in WWII-era London: that's one point in its favour. It's written by an author who has been glowingly recommended to me: point two.

Nothing interesting happens in the first 100 pages (see? I was generous and gave it double the usual time to prove itself to me): minus one point. The characters are dull: minus two points.

Oops, this book is a zero.

Seriously, though... I expected a lot more from a writer who has had glowing critical praise and commercial success. I didn't expect a book that was, frankly... just plain uninteresting.

These people, Kay, Viv, Duncan and Helen, all seem to lead very dull lives in post-war London. There are occasional hints that they had more interesting pasts, but for the most part they do boring things (described in far too much meticulous detail), and they have boring, stilted conversations; neither seems to do much of anything to move the story forward. They have boring love affairs that are full of petty jealousy and boring friendships that are full of insecurity.

It looks like if I'd stuck with this book for another 60 pages, the book would have taken me back to 1944 and perhaps given me a little more interesting information about these dull people's mysterious pasts. I wonder what it would have been like if I'd taken Kay's advice and started the story halfway through; but then, what if I found out that their pasts were just as boring as their future seems to be?

Well, perhaps that's just me.

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