Watching goes both ways... They watch for control, for survival, for pleasure. We watch for survival, for fear, for love. A contemporary thriller of rebellion and surrender, love and war.
The pressure of my blood, the beat of my heart, is a message to you. You read each second of my body's life. But watching goes both ways. You watch us: for control, for power, for pleasure. We watch you: for survival, for fear, for love.
It is the present day. The foggy northern city of Port Angelsund, gateway to the last great fossil fuel reserves beneath the Arctic Ocean, is under occupation by the soldiers of Garrison. Sylvie is a young woman just trying to survive. She works in a harbourside café with her mother and little brother, and fears for her older brother, Jory, who fled when the enemy invaded.
When Sylvie is singled out for punishment at a Garrison checkpoint, a young lieutenant rescues her from torture. Though she knows the terrible risks of collaboration, she cannot stop herself from falling in love. Watched closely by Garrison’s vast machinery of surveillance, Sylvie now discovers she is also under the protective and suspicious gaze of her lover.
Brooding over the rim of the world, Coalition pledges to free Port Angelsund: storm is coming, they say, we are on our way. When Jory returns on a terrorist mission that will throw the city into chaos, Sylvie’s loyalties are tested beyond breaking point. Her deep bond with her brother and her illicit passion for her Garrison officer are loves that cannot coexist. Whatever she does is betrayal.
In the spirit of Hiroshima Mon Amour and Suite Francaise, this sensual and heart-breaking novel brings the classic conflicts of war and occupation, devotion and treachery, up to the present minute. While the unimaginable power of modern warfare advances, Watch Over Me reminds us that the things at stake—survival, refuge and love—remain the things worth fighting for.
About the Author
Claire Corbett was born in Canada and has worked in film and government policy. Her first novel, When We Have Wings, was published in 2011 and shortlisted for the 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award and the 2012 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. Her recent fiction and essays have been published in a range of journals, including The Best Australian Stories 2014/2015, Griffith Review, Southerly and Overland. She has written on defence and strategy for The Diplomat, The Strategist and The Monthly.
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Comments about Watch Over Me:
This superb, absorbing and thought-provoking novel is a rich, heady hybrid of realism and speculative fiction. Set in a time not very different to ours, in a port city in a cold-region country that has been taken over by invaders who themselves are under periodic attack both from external State enemies and internal resistants, it tells the story both of the occupied and the occupiers. The story is seen through the eyes of Sylvie, a young woman whose brother is in the resistance but who falls in love with Will, an elite eneny soldier, after he rescues her from torture at a checkpoint. Their dangerous relationship is at the centre of the novel, and is skilfully and memorably depicted in all its ambiguities, pain, pleasure, and paradoxes, recalling similar historical experiences such as those of French women who fell in love with German soldiers under the occupation of France in World War 2. Watch Over Me unflinchingly yet never simplistically explores the complicated relations between men and women in wartime, and the way in which 'normal' gender relations are both upset by it and yet reinforced, and the vulnerable position of children is also poignantly explored. But this is not the only thing which makes this novel such a gripping and involving read; the depiction of Sylvie's world, her family, friends, neighbours is richly detailed, as is the tense atmosphere of a city under occupation and under attack, with echoes of both current and historical wars. The world of the novel mixes glancing mentions of real places—Paris, Finland, for instance—with the much more delineated fictional settings, jolting the reader out of assumptions, and contributing to the unsettling atmosphere of this magnificent novel. Highly recommended .
Number Of Pages: 480
Published: 26th April 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3