NIGHT WAKING……by Sarah Moss (Granta Books 2011)

nightwakingAnother novel in the Scottish Island series:

This novel features a fictitious Scottish Island called Colsay which is loosely based on the Island of St. Kilda. This novel revolves around a young family spending their summer on the family owned Island; an unpopulated and, at times, desolate place.  Anna is trying to run the household which includes a disaster-obsessed eight-year 0ld , a toddler, and her husband  who is frequently elsewhere on the island counting puffins. Simply running out of milk might mean a difficult boat trip to the store (weather permitting). Oh yes…Anna is also writing a book.  She is very, very sleep-deprived.

I think this novel (probably all novels) will ring different bells for different people.  I was immediately swept back  to my years as a young mother when I would have gladly bartered anything (shaved my head, sold my teeth) for one solid night of sleep. I laughed out loud when Anna traded in her sex chip–something like–Okay, but only if you get up when he cries tonight.  I find it interesting that one of the main themes is ISOLATION because you don’t need to be on a deserted island to feel isolated–especially at 3:30 a.m. with a screaming toddler.  I must have been nodding like a bobblehead as Anna described her  “mother-guilt” when she felt everyone was judging her parenting skills. I will describe to you the REAL walk-of-shame.  It is walking up to the customer service desk at Walmart to claim your misplaced property child while  everyone in the store is watching to see this terrible mother (clearly announced on the p.a.) ….who could actually lose a child. (I had twins so sometimes they would take-off in different directions and suddenly it was Sophie’s Choice time) EEk, I am still trying to justify myself.

Anna also had to deal with paying guests, unreliable internet(important for her work) and there was the matter of the baby’s skeleton found in her garden (resulting in a police investigation). The reader will quickly realize that Anna and the author are both very intelligent and educated women. This reader needed to keep a dictionary close at hand.

A separate thread, revealed through letters, involved a Victorian midwife, and her frustration at trying to educate the Islanders over matters like hygiene.

At this point I would like to say that although this book had some humour it could also be very bleak. Anna’s thoughts were often quite dark and the death-obsessed boy could be disturbing.

I do need to thank the author and this book because I have been motivated to learn more about St Kilda.


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Filed under book review, book reviews, books, General fiction, Scottish Island Fiction

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