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Night Waking Paperback – 5 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184708270X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847082701
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Tartly humorous, sad and clever ... a passionately written meditation on motherhood, with all the monotony, desperation and visceral feelings faithfully recorded - Elizabeth Buchan, "Sunday Times" Moss writes marvellously (and often hilariously) about the clash between career and motherhood. Allison Pearson for intellectuals - "The Times" Fresh and illuminating... [Sarah] Moss is a wry, winning guide - G"uardian" Highly enjoyable... The upbeat conclusion to this blend of middle-class satire, historical fiction and campus novel does not soften Moss's withering take on sexism and her stark view of motherhood - "Daily Telegraph" An original and accomplished novel - D"aily Mail" Sarah Moss's debut, Cold Earth, was a stylish thriller set on a remote archaeological dig in Greenland. Here she takes the emotional isolation of early parenthood as her subject, intensifying the experience by transplanting a young family to a remote Scottish island ... In her previous book, a character noted that there was ""some peace in having a kind of room of my own, even if it is a grave."" This latest work explores the concept further with some startling results' - " Independent" Sarah Moss weaves in perceptions about motherhood, attitudes to children and attempts to improve the world... she demonstrates that she can handle a darkly comic narrative with the best of them - although Night Waking is much more than that - "Metro" Witty with dark humour ... Moss manages to wave the threads together quite expertly at the end - " Herald"

About the Author

Sarah Moss is senior lecturer in Literature and Place at the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus. She spent 2009-10 teaching creative writing and Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of Iceland, and has a BA, MSt and DPhil from Oxford University. Her first novel Cold Earth was published by Granta in 2010. Night Waking is her second novel.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anna is an Oxford Academic currently living on the tiny island of Colsay, in the North of Scotland, which her husband Giles has inherited. She has two sons - Raph and Moth - and is attempting to finish the book she is writing, while Giles counts the Puffin population and tries to understand why the numbers are declining. Anna sees herself as a historian and is highly resentful of being a full time mother without help, with little to amuse the children and a husband who has high standards regarding shop brought bread, etc, but who happily disappears all day and leaves her to cope. Her desperation and sleep deprivation is so well written that it will be understood immediately by all mothers of young children, as will Giles offhand manner I suspect! Part of the book takes place during the night, when Anna goes to soothe Moth, who still wakes and cries. Giles feels that taking the toddler into the bed 'sets a precedent' although in order to get some sleep, just about every mother (assuming they can't face controlled crying, which I certainly could not) give in sooner or later. Anna is very hard on herself and feels she is being judged harshly by almost everyone, including herself. The first half of the book establishes the personalities involved and is absolutely brilliant writing - Anna's feminist retellings of various childrens picture books actually had me laughing out loud! I also adored Anna's retelling of the Gruffalo - which mother of a young child cannot recite it word for word?!

Into this very self contained life, the outside world comes intruding, after Anna and Raph dig up a small skeleton while planting trees. The baby has lain, undisturbed, for many years and the police begin to investigate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By northsylvania on 20 July 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is a description of its time, location, class relations through time, and the arcane world of academic politics, though it is more obviously a book about the struggle many mothers of young children experience while trying to hold a sense of themselves in the face of exhaustion and the conflicting needs of two developing, distinct, and very strong personalities.
Anna is a historian and, while she is an Oxford fellow, seems to regard herself as punching above her weight among her upper class, and very judgmental, cohorts. Her husband, an ornithologist, fits more easily into this milieu, something she finds herself resenting. Their retreat to his family’s property on a remote island in Scotland, where he is researching the declining local population of puffins and refurbishing part of the property as a holiday let conflicts with her need of large blocks of time to complete a historical work for publication without library access and only intermittent web access, one child who is obsessed with disasters and ecological disaster, and a toddler who is an insomniac. As an academic, her training has caused her to be as critical of her own actions as she is about those of others. However, this also makes her an acute observer of the situations in which she finds herself. Others have commented that Anna is not a sympathetic character for much of the book, but that is not the point, any more than romance is the sole point of Pride and Prejudice.
This book will ring a lot of bells with mothers of young children, but more especially with women who are also trying to use their own professional accomplishments to inform their place in family and, by extension, in society. The sections dealing with May’s experience as an educated woman trying to work with the islanders during the 19th century show how disastrous the results can be when this balance cannot be accomplished.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 10 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an accurate portrayal of a young mother shackled to a toddler's constant demands - being woken at 2 am night after night after night, exhaustion, lack of mental stimulus, not being able to get on with your own work, life, etc.

Although while it's happening it is seemingly everlasting, conversations of the type one has with a toddler can become repetitive and rather tedious in the context of a novel. At least, that is how it felt to me for the first part of this story. Admittedly, Moth's demands (strange name until you realise it's short for Timothy) are interspersed with extracts of Anna's text for an academic book she is trying to write. But to me these sounded like an attempt to make the story deeper than it was, weighty rather than trivial. As such they seemed forced and contrived and, in such detail, out of place in a novel. Seven-year-old Raph, meanwhile, is working on various engineering projects with a view to saving the planet, and husband Giles is getting on with his research into puffins.

Finding bones buried in the garden leads Anna to a different aspect of research, and upsets Raph. The back-story of a young English nurse confronted with infant mortality (reminiscent of that prevalent in nineteenth century St Kilda and brought to life in Island of Wings, by Karin Altenberg) is interesting but only briefly touched upon.

Although well written, as one who lives on a Hebridean island I felt no sense of the islands or their people. Anna's character is fully developed though, so you feel as if you know her and suffer with her. Giles, on the other hand, is an empty shell. He hails from a wealthy background, is chauvinistic, shows little sympathy for his wife's exhaustion and for most of the story makes no attempt to help or encourage her.
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