Samantha for drawing my attention to this one - I agree with you completely about loving this book - what a find! Night Waking is the second book by British author Sarah Moss (I am now eagerly tracking down her first novel after loving this one so much) and tells the story of Anna Bennett, historian, academic, researcher, mother and wife who is currently spending the summer on an isolated Scottish island with her husband, Giles and her two young sons, Raph and Moth. The island is actually owned by Giles's family and has come into his hands following the death of his father one year ago. As an ecologist Giles is drawn to the island to study the puffin population while Sarah is struggling to finish her book on the history of childhood and institutions in eighteenth century Britain while caring for her two boys. The story is told from Anna's perspective with interwoven chapters told in letter format by May Moberley, a young nurse who came to the island in 1878 to try and reduce the high infant mortality rate. The narratives of Anna and May intersect when Anna and her son come across the bones of a baby buried in the back yard of their house leading Anna to start researching the local history - forcing her to look back at her own choices.
The strength of this book lies in Anna - she is a perfectly flawed, funny, intelligent character who I had nothing but empathy for. I am not a mother myself but I found her reflections on motherhood honest and believable.
I was interested to read on Sarah Moss's website about her interest in literature and place because the environment and the essence of the location is strongly present in Night Waking - the island is like a character all of its own and it clearly has an impact on the plot of the novel.
A brilliantly written and paced book - can't wait to read more from this author.