Wake: 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 Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her.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.
I read this novel in two days, unable to keep the manuscript version of it out of my paws. The story goes back and forth between Ava, Evelyn, and Hettie, all grieving for someone, all stuck in a sleep-like trance, barely there, barely living. I found myself transfixed by Hettie and this mysterious man James, my heart ached for Ava and Evelyn and the losses they both suffered. All I wanted for them was to wake up and find peace, to make their own peace. As the story progressed and I learned more about how all three women are connected, I felt my anxiety grow. The way that Anna Hope intertwines the lives of these three women is remarkable and entrancing. Her characters (and their pain) is so raw that you can’t help but feel attached and responsible for them — and I’m not just talking about the three main women in the novel either. Flashbacks to fighting in the war, the horrible things that war made the men do, the life altering injuries they suffered, the nerves and shell-shock that they go through rocks you to your core.
What I like so much about Wake is the way that Anna Hope shows you both sides of the war, it wakes you up to its harsh realities. This warm and fluid novel leaves you breathless to the very last sentence… and FYI, the last sentence…it kind of rocks.
“I’ll remember you, he thinks, and as the gun carriage, with its coffin and its dented helmet pass him by, he closes his eyes.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of Wake from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Photo Credit and Synopsis: Random House of Canada
Quote from: Goodreads