book cover of Night Watch
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Night Watch

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
'Breathtaking in both its scope and intensity' TAYARI JONES

'Shatteringly particular and audaciously universal' ALICE RANDALL

'Gorgeous prose, attention to detail and masterful characters. Haunting storytelling and a refreshing look at history' KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW

From one of our most accomplished novelists, a mesmerizing story about a mother and daughter seeking refuge in a mental asylum in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War.


In 1874, in the wake of the war, trauma haunts civilians and veterans, renegades and wanderers, freedmen and runaways. Twelve-year-old ConaLee and her mother, Eliza, who hasn't spoken in more than a year, arrive at the Trans-Allegh­eny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, delivered to the hospital's entrance by a war vet­eran who has forced himself into their lives. There, far from family, a beloved neighbour, and the mountain home they knew, they try to reclaim their lives.

The twin horrors of war and race rise to the surface as we learn their history: their flight to the highest mountain ridges of western Virginia; the disappearance of ConaLee's father, who left for the war and never returned. Meanwhile in the asylum, they begin to find a new path. ConaLee pretends to be her mother's maid; Eliza responds slowly to treatment. They get swept up in the life of the facility - the mystery behind the man they call the Night Watch; the child called Weed; the fearsome woman who runs the kitchen; the remarkable doctor at the head of the institution.

Epic, enthralling and meticulously crafted, Night Watch is a brilliant portrait of family endurance against all odds and a stunning chronicle of surviving war and its aftermath.
Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"A lovely piece of work . . . Night Watch is another of Jayne Anne Phillips's intimate revelatory creations." - Dorothy Allison

"It's hard to know what to praise first - Jayne Anne Phillips' signature beautiful sentences, the compelling scenes of battle and their ravaged aftermath, the fascinating portrayal of Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride's 'moral treatment' method for the mentally ill, or the vivid depiction of the people and land of West Virginia in the 1860s and 70s. Night Watch takes a highly deserved place among important novels about war and its legacy." - Alice Elliott Dark

"Jayne Anne Phillips is a brilliant artist working at the height of her powers. Word by word, and line by line, there is no one better. This novel lives where a startling imagination meets scrupulous research: Night Watch is a tour de force - breathtaking in both its scope and intensity." - Tayari Jones

"A profound meditation on identity, empathy, sanity, daughter-love, nature, and the Civil War, Night Watch will leave you shook and sustained. This novel delivers fictional reckoning that makes way for the potential of real-world reconciliation by delivering complex and necessary testimony and confession. Weaving photographs and fragments of non-fiction prose into an intimate family story, Night Watch is at once shatteringly particular and audaciously universal. Jayne Anne Phillips arrives at the crowning achievement of an extraordinary career." - Alice Randall

"Jayne Anne Phillips is a wonderfully gifted storyteller, and few contemporary writers can match the lyricism of her prose, but in this marvelous new novel, largely set in a factual nineteenth-century asylum, she achieves even more: history and imagination merge, and she gives the past a living pulse." - Ron Rash


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