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The watch that ends the night: A novel [Paperback]

Hugh MacLennan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1986 0771592531 978-0771592539
George and Catherine Stewart share not only the burden of Catherine's heart disease, which could cause her death at any time, but the memory of Jerome Martell, her first husband and George's closest friend. Martel, a brilliant doctor passionately concerned with social justice, is presumed to have died in a Nazi prison camp. His sudden return to Montreal precipitates the central crisis of the novel. Hugh MacLennan takes the reader into the lives of his three characters and back into the world of Montreal in the thirties, when politics could send an idealist across the world to Spain, France, Auschwitz, Russia, and China before his return home.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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In The Watch That Ends the Night, the last of Hugh MacLennan's major novels (it earned him his fifth Governor General's Award), the unruliness that was always part of his epic vision has become particularly noticeable. MacLennan's usual mélange of intellectualism and melodrama is still immediately recognizable, but The Watch That Ends the Night rambles in ways that his earlier books do not, through passages of Dickensian pastiche and even what appears to be a tinny mimicry of the private school from Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall. Narrator George Stewart, a moderately charming, self-justifying, and privately meek radio commentator, is married to Catherine, a passionate but chronically ill woman. Though George and Catherine were teenage sweethearts, they only married after Catherine's first husband, Jerome Martell, disappeared while fighting with the French Resistance in the Second World War.

Martell, however, is not dead, and he returns to Montreal, upsetting the mild domestic stability of the Stewarts. MacLennan sets up Martell as a flamboyant, doomed hybrid of Christ, Odysseus, and Doctor Norman Bethune, and The Watch That Ends the Night is really Martell's book--recounting his checkered Canadian career and the forces that sent him to the trenches in the First World War, to aid the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, and to incarceration and forced labour in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and China. The Watch That Ends the Night is among MacLennan's most politically sophisticated books, and it makes an interesting counterpoint to Two Solitudes. Curious readers who are unfamiliar with MacLennan will be much better served, though, by the much more readable Barometer Rising. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

The Watch That Ends the Night is a novel of affirmation ... The vanity of human wishes, death itself, are part of the mystery to be loved ... I would not trade MacLennan for a legion of beatniks or a whole flotilla-full of angry young men. Queen's Quarterly --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Necessity Dec 27 2010
By eenie
Format:Paperback
I needed a copy of this book for my book club =. everyone was having problems finding this old Canadian classic. Thanks to Amazon I now have two copies which I am able to pass around to the other members (Not exactly great for your sales) Both books arrived well packaged and in good shape. One cost me only $1,63 so ordered another to share.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Montreal in the Thirties Sept. 4 2001
By JACK WHITE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a very interesting book on two main counts, it describes the political climate amongst the intelligentsia in ther 1930's and it also offers a glimpse of what Montreal was like during the great depression.
Hugh Mclennon was a Montreal author, originally from Nova Scotia whoe was also a distinguished classics teacher teaching in Mcgill University.
The story is basically the relationship between Jerome Martell, a Monreal surgeon and his alter ego. George. Both are in love with the same women Catherine. Catherine is George's childhood friend who eventually marries Jerome then a successful surgeon. Jerome is someone from a modest background who had fought in WW1 and was notably damaged by his experience. He is a somewhat heroic charecter loosely based on Dr. Norman Bethune. At first he is happy with Catherine who is barely clinging to life with a damaged heart. However when Jerome becomes politically active, the relationship deteriorates and he abandons Catherine and their daughter Sally and goes off to fight on the Republican side in thr Spanish Civil War. He eventually disappears and is presumed dead. Catherine then turns to her old friend George and they marry. Jerome reappears twelve years later at the height of the Korean War and Catherine nearly dies of shock when she meets her ex husband.
The stregnth of the book is the descrition of St.Catherine Street, the main Montreal thoroughfare during the thirties with its unemployed crowds shuffling aimlessly. It is also good in the social ferment, in particular between the commuunist and the right wing French Canadians. Mclennon tries to use Jerome as a political everyman showing how devotion to a cause though well intentioned leads only to misery all around. He does this very well. In style the book sometimes reminds me of a Canadian Hemingway with occasional touches of A.J. Cronin. The weakness of the book is the sometimes unconvincing dialogue and the sketchy portraits of the female charecters. In summary this is a very informed and entertaining novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book - A must read for Tragically Hip fans May 14 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Very interesting book. Takes you back to the time when the "in" thing to do was to go off and fight for a noble cause. Contains the piece of the Tragically Hip sound "Courage" in it. A bit difficult to get into but once you do, you're captured.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a good book, but slightly over-detailed. May 25 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this a very good book. Hugh Maclennan described each character very well to the point where i felt that i was part of the characters' lives. It was enjoyable to read what Montreal was like then and compare it to Montreal today, and read about the same streets that i walk on almost every day (I live in Montreal). In all, a good book.
5.0 out of 5 stars An All-Tiime Favorite Jan. 4 2014
By Kristen Noakes-Fry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this book decades ago, and it remains a favorite. The book makes dramatic use of the beautifully described setting of post-WWII Canada, the range of fully developed vivid characters, and a plot with twists and turns that makes all the characters in the book confront and come to terms with who and what they were -- and the decisions they made -- in the tumult of the war years. And The Watch That Ends the Night is the reason I have a daughter named "Sally." I came away from MacLennan's book with the sense that it was the perfect name for a strong clear-eyed young girl who -- no matter what kind of decisions her parents had made in the past -- would be able to take on whatever the future had in store for her and for Canada with realism and joy.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, poor condition Sept. 19 2013
By Frank Snow - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Parts of the book were in such poor condition that some passages were difficult to read. Pages were "aged" (to be kind) and at least one falling out (and fell out actually).

However, Amazon.com responded to my report totally, and to my completely satisfaction. Thank you Amazon.com.
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