I read The Night Watch a couple of weeks back, and can’t say I loved it. It was very different from the usual Sarah Waters style – experimental in its writing and tone, and it took me some time to get into it.
That said, the writing is beautiful, simply sublime. In terms of writing and maturity, this book about three lesbians in World War 2 is probably the best book she’s written.
There are some books that draw you in from the very first sentence itself. Very powerful, and reflects the tone of the rest of the story beautifully. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it sets up for a very great book. I loved this opening sentence from Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.
I saw the movie version of this book – The Constant Gardener a few years ago, and I found it unbearably heartbreaking (in a very lovely way).
I find the book less so, but that is because Le Carré is not really a sentimental type of writer.
I do love though how righteously angry he gets (something I haven’t seen in previous books I read). This is an angry, angry book, and the main character Tessa really rips into the injustice she sees around her. Not without unfortunate consequences, of course.
I tried to read The Spy Who Came In From The Cold when I was a teenager and quickly dumped it. I was looking for action. It’s not that sort of story. Le Carré’s not that sort of espionage writer.
Instead this book is a complex, slow, unglamorous rendering of life in the espionage world in the post World War 2 era. There are no good guys and no bad guys. And in the end, no happy endings for anybody.
For some reason (maybe the blurb at the back of the book, or the comparisons with Gone Girl), I read this book thinking it was going to be a thriller. Turns out that there are some thrills in it, but it’s more of a woman’s fiction kind of book – somewhere along the lines of The Escape Artist. I must be living under a rock or something, but it seems like there’s a new lighter, more emotional sort of thriller that’s getting popular these days.
Here’s a teaser, that I thought was quite true in general about long-married couples. What do you think?