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Night Waking

Narrated by: Jane Lambert
Length: 13 hrs and 6 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently-absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins.

Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby's skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders.

The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story.

©2011 Sarah Moss (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Night Waking

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for R. J. Gladden
  • R. J. Gladden
  • 12-04-2014

Struggled to keep me awake

The narration was one of the better aspects of this book for me and I ploughed on expecting something to happen and the plot and purpose of the book to reveal itself. Now having completed it I am left wondering if I missed a chunk. The whole novel is set around the unhappy, dissatisfied life of Anna, who spends practically every night walking the floor with her youngest child Timothy who for some reason they call 'Moth' I think. Her days are spent refereeing various altercations between her two sons, the elder of which, Raphael, is a super intelligent environmentally green fanatic with a death obsession and the tantrum prone Timothy.

Throughout all this is the bubbling resentment of her puffin counting husband, Giles, who spends blissful days counting said birds on the remote and virtually uninhibited island on which they live.

Interspersed with all this is the reading of letters from an unknown source and the finding of some baby's bones wrapped in a knitted shawl buried in the garden of their house. There are no spoilers here so I shan't go further. I know some people enjoyed this book and there are moments of humour when Anna imagines what torture she would like to mete out to Giles on occasion and indeed the children. The wonder for me is how she managed to restrain herself. Personally I felt all the characters, especially the children, lacked any redeeming features whatsoever.

I hate giving negative feedback and the book was well written and constructed but I am still left wondering what the point was.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-12-2012

Very good read

I really enjoyed this book. To begin with I thought I might become too annoyed with the self sacrificing main character, but thankfully she resists many of the expections put upon her as a woman. The humour within the text helped make this an interesting exploration of the complexities of some women lives. The narration was good, and by the end I wanted more.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Eliza
  • 19-07-2020

Exceptional storytelling hampered by poor narratio

Sarah Moss has rapidly become one of my favourite writers. She writes with a grace and fluidity that make her books read like cream - smoothly, seductively and addictively. This wonderful story of a family with two children - a boy beset with climate change anxiety and a toddler, the ever-charming Moth - toughing it out on an isolated island in the Hebrides while the husband researches puffin behaviour and the wife, a historian, attempts to write a book, is such an accurate representation of the exhaustion and frustration of parenthood that every parent who reads it will immediately empathise. "It's not children I don't like," reflects Anna at one point, "it's motherhood." That said, she is a wonderful mother to her two eccentric children - Moth, who dislikes sleeping at night but has to be roused from his afternoon sleeps, and Raphael, who models scenes of apocalypse in Lego - and you are half in love with them both by the end of the book. There is also a mystery to be solved, in the form of a baby's skeleton discovered in the garden, and the history of the island and its wretched inhabitants intrigues. Sadly, the narration doesn't do the brisk intelligence of the story any justice - the narrator's voice is breathy and monotonous, and she unforgivably inflects the wrong words. It is read without much insight or intelligence and is a real frustration because the story is so gorgeous.

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Profile Image for Mrs. K. I. Richards
  • Mrs. K. I. Richards
  • 01-07-2014

too many diversions.

What would have made Night Waking better?

ditching the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I found in the first chapter it was hard to know where the quote ended and the story began. started from the beginning twice.sticking to two themes instead of trying to encompass too much i.e., a mother trying to cope with two boys, the youngest sleeping for only a few hours in the night with her studying to write a book, or the finding of a baby's skeleton and its outcome or the letters by a woman from an unknown time period.

What will your next listen be?

ring of guilt by Judith cutler.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

didn't enjoy any of it..

What character would you cut from Night Waking?

all of them.

Any additional comments?

kept falling asleep.