WAKE: A Novel
By: Anna Hope
Published: February 11, 2014
I love finding new authors, and Anna Hope’s debut novel is one that will keep her readers wanting more. This novel came to me highly recommended by the publisher and now I am highly recommending it to you. WAKE takes you through just five days in 1920. World War I is over and we are introduced to three women living in London, who are all dealing with the trauma the war has left behind.
In the novel, each section is focused on one day ending on the fifth day, which is Armistice Day and the ceremonial burial of the unknown solider. We begin by reading about this unknown soldier being dug up from his grave in the middle of France and follow his trip back to London each day. During these five days, we also follow along with the lives of three separate women whose connection isn’t immediately clear until later in the novel.
Evelyn, whose boyfriend was killed in the war, works in the benefits office for wounded soldiers. Her brother whom she has long admired has become an alcoholic after his time in the war. The stories and struggles she hears daily from soldiers as well as the pain of no longer being close with her brother has left her bitter and angry.
Hettie, lives with her mother and brother who is no longer able to communicate or work after his time serving in the war. Hettie works as a dance instructor and must turn over half her wages to her family which makes her angry and jealous of her fellow dancers clothing and freedom. One night Hettie meets a man and becomes quite smitten, but his secrets and his past could change everything.
Ada’s son Michael was killed in the war. Ada and her husband, Jack, live separate lives in the same house due to Ada’s overcoming grief. Jack has moved on and Ada still insists that she sees Michael everywhere she goes. One day a salesman stops by and utters Michael’s name and Ada is even more consumed with finding the truth about his death. Her overwhelming desire to find him could be the last straw for Jack and their marriage.
Since the novel tells the story of the women and the unknown soldier during each day, the story can at times be a little choppy. We are told each of their stories in pieces both from the past and the present. We learn the horrors of the war and how each of them and their loved ones were affected by the devastation. It is a heavy novel with much sadness and pain. All of the women are hurting, bitter, and mostly miserable. But, you become quickly wrapped up in their lives and each time you are given a glimmer of hope, you push through another day in the story. What binds them together is the war, but their other connections will surprise you.
One of my favorite lines from the story that really shares the feeling of many during this time and honestly, as well as many of us in the present:
- ” War wins.” He says. “And it keeps on winning, over and over again.”. “War wins,” he says bitterly, “and anyone who thinks any differently is a fool.”
The years after the war were a sad and desperate time for many and even though not everything in this story is neatly tied up, it definitely ends with a faith that there will be better times ahead for each of these women.
Anna Hope is an English writer and actress from Manchester. She is perhaps best known for her Doctor Who role of Novice Hame. She was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, and Birkbeck College, London. Follow her on Twitter, HERE.
This book was sent to me thanks to Random House for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated in any other way. This review is my honest opinion. If you chose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small compensation without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews.