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Friday, May 20, 2011

Review - Sarah Moss's NIGHT WAKING

I read about this book on Cornflower Books. This was not an easy book to get into but once I did get in after about 40 pages I couldn't put it down and read through the night almost and finished it in one go.

Anna and Giles parents of two children - two exhausting children by the way - are on an island with Giles monitoring puffins and Anna trying to finish a book. Anna is exhausted by just looking after two hyperactive kids, solitude of being on an island, no getting away from anyone or anything and the fact that her husband wants to be carbon conscious, eco conscious, green conscious if there is a word like that but does not want to lift a finger to help her bring up these children. I felt for Anna so very much - she would kill for an hour of sleep but there does not seem to be an end in sight. The tyranny of very small children is repetitive and you could well understand Anna's frustration and rebelliousness despite her knowing that there is no way out for her (just yet).

There is a mystery to solve, a dead baby from times past, an arrival of a family with an anorexic daughter and an ambitious mother in the form of a holiday let. The fact that Anna is in the midst of research into Victorian childhood and the rise of institutions seems slightly ironic given the state of affairs in this household. Anna's daily chore of making bread from scratch despite her dislike of it just because Giles wishes it to be so, makes one wonder whether she had no mind of her own over this and so many other niggling, irritating details. There does seem to be some point where you hope that Anna will just say no to the huge list of chores which seem superfluous when you can so easily have an alternative and easier way of doing things.

All the men in the novel from the littlest one Moth to Raph to Giles are seen as tyrants - feudal almost where Anna does not seem to be in any better position of a woman from centuries past.

I liked the book though I disliked Giles intensely. I was in turns cheering Anna on and then feeling hopeless along with her. I also wanted to shake not Moth who was a toddler but Raph with his incessant questions (the boy needs help fast!) on engineering, computers, the economy and ecology in turn.

A difficult book to read but a good one.


  1. I do not know if I have heard about her before but the puffin part sounds a bit familiar

  2. Mystica, I hadn't heard much about this book before venturing here. It sounds like you really were absorbed by it! Your review entices me to pick up a copy for myself.

  3. great review. I think i'm going to look this one up.
    I'm following you now.