Wake by Anna Hope

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Wake by Anna Hope

Buy Wake by Anna Hope at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: The book follows the journey of the body of the unknown warrior to his final resting place, over the course of five days. Those five days will change the lives of three women forever.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 336 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780857521941

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1 Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep
2 Ritual for the dead
3 Consequence or aftermath

We often hear the term Broken Britain in reference to modern society, but the Britain presented in Wake epitomises the term completely. This is a country reeling from the aftermath of the Great War. Unemployment is rife, food scarce and every family has been touched and scarred forever by the events of the preceding years.

Evelyn knows all about the heartbreak caused by war. Her lover was killed during the conflict, causing her to build an impenetrable barrier around herself to prevent anyone from ever getting close to her again.

Ada lost her only son, Michael, in the war. Unlike her neighbours, she never received information about where he was buried, so she is left in a kind of limbo, unable to get closure. She sees her son on every street corner, but he is always facing away from her. Why does he never hear her when she calls out to him?

Hettie is a dance instructress at the Hammersmith Palais. She lost her brother to the war, although not in the conventional sense. Death would have been a more fitting end. When she sits with him and looks into his dead, soulless eyes, she knows that it will be up to her to provide and support her family financially. She will never be free.

These three very different women are all connected by the mystery surrounding Michael’s death. Slowly, the pieces are put together like a jigsaw and a final picture emerges. The final reveal is both engaging and heartbreaking, in a shock twist that exposes the horror of war at its most basic level.

Hope has a beautiful, poetic way of writing and it is easy to lose oneself in each scene. She takes the minutiae of life and touches it with a lyrical magic. She breathes life into each character with her wonderfully descriptive prose.

Unfortunately, there were also aspects of the book that I didn’t like. The characters seemed far too contemporary in their lifestyles, language and attitudes. In one scene, an easy-going, middle-aged husband launches an expletive-ridden tirade at his wife, which seems completely out of character. Many scenes in the book seemed gratuitous and unpleasant. There are also one or two anachronisms in the text, the worst being a reference to a plastic prosthetic limb! For these reasons, the settings and people never felt truly authentic, despite the beautiful creative writing.

The book is set over five days, charting the journey of the body of the unknown warrior to his final resting place. Don’t expect much in the way of action, it is not that sort of book. Wake, however, is a deeply insightful, dark, gritty and profoundly moving account of life after the war and the struggle to regain some kind of normality in the aftermath of the horror.

If you like the multiple-narrative style of this book, you may enjoy The Adoption by Anne Berry which is written in a similar way.

If you'd like an ebook but don't read on Kindle then the book is available from Sainsburys.

Buy Wake by Anna Hope at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Anna Hope at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Wake by Anna Hope at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Anna Hope at Amazon.com.


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