Wake by Anna Hope

January 28, 2016 Whitney Review 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wake by Anna HopeWake by Anna Hope
Published by Random House on February 11, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Netgalley

A brilliant debut for readers of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, in which three women must deal with the aftershocks of WWI and its impact on the men in their lives—a son, a brother and a lover. Their tragic connection is slowly revealed as the book unfolds.

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

Hettie, a dance instructress at the Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, mute and lost after his return from the war. One night, at work, she meets a wealthy, educated man and has reason to think he is as smitten with her as she is with him. Still there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach...Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her posh parents, she looks for solace in her adored brother who has not been the same since he returned from the front...Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out of work veterans. But when he shows signs of being seriously disturbed—she recognizes the symptoms of "shell shock"—and utters the name of her son she is jolted to the core...

The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.

First Impression

Wake has a restrained power over the reader.  Anna Hope’s writing gives such love to the characters. She holds the reader’s breath with elegance. The Author also tackles a difficult subject with tenderness and unbridled strength.

Impressions on the Characters

All three characters were unique and could have been a novel on its own.  Although, Evelyn and Ada were the standouts.   Their stories interested me more and had a more defined purpose to the plot.

Each time Ada came across the stage my heart broke for her loss. She was a strong character with a moving demeanor. I looked forward to her parts in the novel.  Her son, who was lost at war was also an interesting (if not sad) addition. I read with reluctant veracity to learn of the actions that led to his unknown death.

Evelyn had a great resolve about her. She is a refined person trying unsuccessfully to make sense of it all.  I felt that under the right circumstances, she could have risen to the occasion but could never quite reach that cloud. For that reason, I was a little disappointed in her.

Hettie, I really could have done without. She seemed unnecessary to the plotline and sighed when she came back on-screen.  Hettie felt underdeveloped and not as clear as Ada and Evelyn.  The character was just ho-hum.

Impressions on Plot

The writing was beautifully lyrical but I felt the narrative was a bit erratic, jumping from one woman to the next without warning and had to take the time to adjust.

Including the unknown soldier was brilliant.  He brought an intensity to the novel that a marked soldier never could. These scenes were vividly told and created a bright picture of what Anna Hope was conveying. From the tears of the surviving loved ones, and the helmet they all wore it was a beautifully crafted picture. it was a very emotionally draining time and added a large depth to Wake.

Final Impressions

Wake is not a novel you close the cover and say wow.  Only upon the next day, having time to reflect that you realize what a heart-wrenching impact the novel has left on you.


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