Review published on April 1, 2016.
If I had to compile a recipe for the perfect novel of the twenty first century what would it include?
• A mystery to keep the readers guessing and turning the pages to discover answers.
• A fair sprinkling of humour to make the readers smile and endear the characters.
• New facts to teach the readers things they did not already know.
• A hint of controversy to make them think and ask questions.
• Intelligent prose which can both entertain but also challenge the reader.
Mix them all together and the book you have is Night Waking by Sarah Moss.
It is narrated by Anna Bennett, a historian but also a twenty first-century mother with a lively two-year-old who loves his stories and cries plaintively “Mummy read a Gruffalo!” Anna also has an older son who is endeavouring to solve the world’s problems with Lego and an aristocratic, ornithologist husband employed to count puffins on the remote island owned by his family, where they’re all spending the summer. If she gets any time to herself she is trying to stay awake long enough to write a book.
On the fictitious Scottish island, which is based on St Kilda, Anna tries to divide her time between childcare and research for her book, which in reality becomes spells of domestic drudgery interspersed with attempts to find solitude in order to work or catch up on some sleep. Two more things happen – a second family comes to holiday on the island showing another example of middle class motherhood and Anna makes a discovery in her garden, which changes everything.
I will tell you no more but urge you to discover the work of Sarah Moss, Night Waking will make you want to read Bodies of Light which in turn will lead you to Signs for Lost Children.
Night Waking by Sarah Moss
Granta pbk 2012
BOOK v FILM: Atonement by Ian McEwan vs. Atonement directed by Joe Wright