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The Watch Tower: Text Classics by [Elizabeth Harrower, Joan London]
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The Watch Tower: Text Classics Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 56 ratings

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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'This is a harrowing novel, relentless in its depiction of marital enslavement, spiritual self-destruction and the exploited condition of women in a masculinist society...It is a brilliant achievement.'
Washington Post

'[A] fantastically incisive portrait of domestic cruelty...For all the psychological torment Harrower subjects her protagonists to, Clare's defiance brings a delectably feminist streak to The Watch Tower.'
Daily Beast

'Harrower crafts a gripping, psychologically astute tale...A classic, indeed.'
Shelf Unbound

'The Watch Tower is an enthralling, captivating story about psychological entrapment and the struggle to escape it.'
Shelf Awareness

'Like lightning, Harrower's prose illuminates dark corners. She captures two seemingly contradictory movements: living in the jolt of adrenalin as one waits for the next car crash or door slam; and the slow, inexorable numbing of the heart as one retreats from the pain of human relationships.'
The Chuckanut Reader

'Haunting...Harrower captures brilliantly the struggle to retain a self.'
Guardian UK

'Haunting and delicate.'
Kirkus Reviews

'Harrower can pierce your heart.... a mesmerising novel.'
Washington Post

'To create a monster as continually credible, comic and nauseating as Felix is a feat of a very high order. But to control that creation, as Miss Harrower does, so that Clare remains the centre of interest is an achievement even more rare. The Watch Tower is a triumph of art over virtuosity.... a dense, profoundly moral novel of our time.'
H.G. Kippax, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November 1966

'Elizabeth Harrower's thrilling 1966 novel The Watch Tower comes rampaging back from decades of disgraceful neglect: a wartime Sydney story of two abandoned sisters and the arrival in their lives of Felix, one of literature's most ferociously realised nasty pieces of work.'
Helen Garner, The Australian Books of the Year, 2012

'Elizabeth Harrower's The Watch Tower truly feels like a neglected classic...I think it's one of the most moving books I've read in a very long time.'
Mariella Frostrup

'I read this book twice. Once for sheer pleasure - if pleasure can be the correct term for an experience that is so distressing - and once for the purposes of this review...It left me with the strongest sense I have had for a very long time of the infinite preciousness of consciousness, at whatever cost, and of our terrifying human vulnerability.'
Salley Vickers, Sydney Morning Herald

'I couldn't put down The Watch Tower, Elizabeth Harrower's dark fairytale of psychological cruelty and co-dependence set in suburban Sydney. Although published originally in 1966 (and reprinted this year by Text Classics), it still has the power to shock. Harrower's insight into the nuances of a pathological personality is forensic, and surely one of the most acute in our literature since Henry Handel Richardson's The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. At the same time, because of its complicated tone, her book retains a kind of mythic power.'
Delia Falconer, The Australian Books of the Year, 2012

'A superb psychological novel that will creep into your bones.'
Michelle de Kretser, The Monthly

'I read The Watch Tower with a mixture of fascination and horror. It was impossible to put down. I then read all Harrower's novels: The Long Prospect (a prescient study of a relationship between a man and a clever but unrecognised young girl), Down in the City and The Catherine Wheel. Her acute psychological assessments are made from gestures, language and glances and she is brilliant on power, isolation and class.'
Ramona Koval, The Australian Books of the Year, 2012

'Roaring out of 40 years in obscurity, Elizabeth Harrower's The Watch Tower is a beautifully written, utterly hypnotic account of two Australian girls' abandonment by their manicure-admiring mother and subsequent drift towards annihilation at the hands of the eldest's viciously craven husband.'
Chosen by Eimear McBride as one of her books of the year in the Irish Times

'What a discovery! Harrower's voice in this book is disconcerting at first: almost fatigued, as though she knows that everything to come is fated to be so and there's little to do but tell the story. And her characters--two young sisters--likewise passively accept the events that befall them. This fatalism is absorbing, though, as you watch the women move slowly through a comatose state into a kind of awakening. In fact, the story reminded me at times of A Doll's House--namely, in the younger sister's internal striving for selfhood and independence--but the long tale of the sisters' subjugation is far more excruciating than what Ibsen imagined.' --Nicole Rudick, Paris Daily Review
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Book Description

A special anniversary edition marking 50 years since the first publication of Elizabeth Harrower's masterpiece, The Watch Tower --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
56 customer ratings
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Reviewed in Australia on 17 February 2014
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Reviewed in Australia on 8 March 2016
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Reviewed in Australia on 14 July 2014
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Reviewed in Australia on 11 September 2016
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Reviewed in Australia on 11 December 2015
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Reviewed in Australia on 14 August 2014
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Reviewed in Australia on 18 March 2015

Top international reviews

Neasa MacErlean
3.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Narcissist
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 March 2015
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Ms. Sasha Lubetkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully-written and utterly absorbing.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 February 2016
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S. Daly-parks
3.0 out of 5 stars Painful read about suppression of instinct and real feeling
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 January 2016
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Mrs Joy F C Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars female entrapment
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 April 2015
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Mrs Barbara A Low
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable for style and topic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 January 2013
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Gerbrand
5.0 out of 5 stars Die lähmende Kraft des Missbrauchs
Reviewed in Germany on 18 May 2016
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Edwin Relf
4.0 out of 5 stars Withering - and necessarially so
Reviewed in the United States on 11 December 2018
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Sylvia
4.0 out of 5 stars Victims of gender in the decade of WW2
Reviewed in the United States on 27 August 2013
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Jennifer Elliott
4.0 out of 5 stars A grim story but worth reading to reflect on a time gone by
Reviewed in the United States on 19 July 2015
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Leonie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Watch Tower is a wonderful
Reviewed in the United States on 9 May 2015
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ArtGeoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully depressing
Reviewed in the United States on 23 February 2013
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Philippa Beckerling
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch Tower - Australian fiction from the forties
Reviewed in the United States on 15 January 2013
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Val Deeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Very serious issue addressed in a very real way.
Reviewed in the United States on 23 November 2016
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3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
Reviewed in the United States on 19 October 2016
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DLZ
5.0 out of 5 stars A Warm Recommendation
Reviewed in the United States on 31 May 2015
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