Writer: Hugh MacLennan
The Watch that Ends the Night
I’ve never read a book set in city I lived in, while I lived there. The Watch that Ends the Night takes place in Montreal. In the city, on Ste-Catherine, Sherbrooke, an on the mountain. All places that I know, maybe not super well, but well enough, and after reading The Watch that Ends the Night I want to know them, and all the city, more.
The way people and places are described made me realize that I don’t always truly see what’s around me. It’s so easy to go through a day taking my surroundings for granted, I don’t want to do that. This sounds cliche, I know, and is, to an extent what Eckhart Tolle talks about, but it was true in the 1950s and is still true today. We still have “those Montreal winter nights after snow when a dozen stars look like stars of Bethlehem.” We still have late fall mornings when the leaves have fallen and we’re waiting for snow. But today things are different, there’s a recession, but no Depression. There’s a war, but on a much smaller scale. We move faster in life, and don’t seem to take the time to enjoy it. I know that there can be times when work is pressing and it seems like I don’t get to do much else, in fact it’s been like that recently.
The story of George, Catherine, and Jerome is one to read a little more slowly than others, and spend some time thinking about. I seemed to read it in sections with breaks in between. For me I suppose that extended the pleasure, and reading from a first edition, (I believe), that my sister found in a used book sale and has the most amazing dust cover only made it better. This copy is from George and Catherine’s time.
By the end I felt that I knew them, especially George, better than many other characters that I read about. It was hard to finish this book and see them go, but that is the magic of a really good book. The Watch that Ends the Night is more than a story about three central characters, and some other secondary characters.
Want to read it yourself? Get from Amazon:
I've linked to a 2009 re-issue, but if you search, you might be able to find the same edition that I read.