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Wake by Anna Hope
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Wake

by Anna Hope

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This novel describes the four days leading up to Armistice Day in 1920, and the journey of the corpse of the Unknown Soldier from France to London.Three women and their losses and their grief because of World War i are portrayed in a somewhat disjointed way, but their stories are somewhat connected. The focal point is the celebration of the Unknown Soldier in London, with loose plot resolutions. Certainly a strong indictment of war. ( )
  sleahey | Jul 1, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a hard time getting into this book, had to start the book 3 times!! But third time was the charm and did enjoy the book. The author did a great job with the characters. It follows 3 women after WWI and their lives. ( )
  gwynie | Jun 13, 2014 |
"Hope paints a multi-faceted view of the UK after World War I and it is fairly bleak and heavy. " read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2014/05/wake-anna-hope.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | May 24, 2014 |
Wake

Since the beginning of the year I have seen so much about this novel on Twitter and book blogs that eventually I had to just give in and buy it for myself. No one seemed to have anything but praise for it, and so I was eagerly anticipating it as I sat down with it after a hard afternoon of gardening on Saturday. Wake is such a brilliantly compelling, engaging novel that a little over twenty four hours later I finished it. I love the title, beautifully apt – the word wake with its associations of awakenings, endings and aftermaths. So there I was about four o’clock Saturday afternoon, sitting in the garden a cup of tea at my side, contemplating the word wake, and the beautifully simple cover of this debut novel. I live in a rather unlovely industrial area of Birmingham, and yet it is often surprisingly peaceful in my little garden. As I began to read of the soldiers who in 1920 were tasked with the retrieval of the remains of the Unknown Soldier, the birds were in good voice, as if singing a little eulogy of their own.
“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.

Nothing will bring them back. Not the words of comfortable men. Not the words of politicians. Or the platitudes of paid poets.”
Set over five days in November 1920, Wake is a novel that concerns the aftermath of war, once the guns have fallen silent, and the world begun to move slowly and haltingly forward. There are so many areas of grey that a war on the scale of the Great War, leaves no one undamaged, landscapes are changed, those left behind often as hurt as those who bear more obvious scars. Leading up to the ceremonial interment of the remains of the Unknown Soldier – Wake depicts the fractured lives of three very different women, all of who have been hurt by the war: Ada, a middle aged woman, married for twenty-five years mourns her son Michael, who she sometimes sees in the street, and of whom she is unable to speak to her husband. Evelyn, approaching thirty lost her lover in the war, now she works in the war pensions office, meeting damaged, embittered men, unaware of the changes the war has had on her brother. Hettie is just nineteen, living at home with her cross mother and her shell shocked brother, she works as a dancer at the Hammersmith Palais loves jazz and envies her friend’s gorgeous new dress.
“Outside, the rain lands quietly, the slurry of dead leaves breaking its fall. Ada lies awake, thinking about her son. About wherever he lies in France and whether it is raining there.”
One day a man comes to the door of Ada’s house selling dishcloths, Ada is soon aware that this man knew her son, but before she can ask him anything he has disappeared. The story of this war damaged man, draw the stories of these women and their men together, gradually unravelling a tragic and haunting story. On the day when thousands of people line the streets of London to watch the procession of the coffin of the Unknown Soldier, the stories of these women come together brilliantly. I am very conscious of spoilers here – so I am not going to say too much about the stories of these women. There is though a heart-breaking authenticity to their stories though that makes the characters feel very real.
And whatever anyone thinks or says, England didn't win this war. And Germany wouldn't have won it, either."

"What do you mean?"

"War wins." He says. "And it keeps winning, over and over again.”
Anna Hope’s writing is really very good indeed; there is a deceptive simplicity to it that belies the depth and poignancy of the stories that this novel tells. Anna Hope has given a powerful voice to these forgotten women, to the ordinary unremarkable men who came back to an uncertain future.
“Clothes hangers clatter as he takes his jacket out, He gets dressed every morning and goes out even though he hasn’t anywhere to go. Hasn’t got a job. Not since coming home from France, two years ago in December, just after their father died. For weeks after his demob, he didn’t leave the house, just sat there in their father’s armchair in the parlour. She would come back from work at Woolworths and he would still be in the same position as when she had left. Often, the dim light and something about the way he sat made her think it was her dad, come back from the dead. It gave her the creeps. But Fred just stayed there, hour after hour, as if that old armchair might tell him where to get a job.”
Thousands upon thousands of women must have had similar tales to tell in the aftermath of this dreadful conflict. When we think about war it becomes easy to think in terms of allies and enemies, in a sense, black hat s and white hats – yet Anna Hope shows us that things are never so simple, how could they be? ( )
  Heaven-Ali | May 21, 2014 |
In 1920, in the aftermath of the War to End All Wars, three women circle around the upcoming London ceremony to bury The Unknown Soldier. Hettie teaches dance at a dance-for-hire club, and tries to reach her war veteran brother, who has locked himself inside his head after coming home. Evelyn's brother, as well, is no longer himself after his war experience -- he drinks too much, and Evelyn sees his face in the visage of every disabled veteran she meets in the course of her job. And Ada, 25 years married, sees her dead son at every turn in their small community, and her husband doesn't know how to reach her. These three women, tangentially connected, move through the days leading up to the ceremony, living with bitterness and sorrow and regret, but searching for the tiniest bit of joy and hope.

Lovely writing, wonderful characters.

Many thanks to Goodreads Give-away program for the opportunity to read this book. ( )
  avanta7 | May 20, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0771039662, Hardcover)

A brilliant debut set just after WWI, as Britain's Unknown Warrior is being brought home from France; three very different women try to find ways to live again after devastating losses -- of a son, a brother, a lover -- and their tragic connection is gradually revealed as the book unfolds. For readers of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong.

Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.
   Hettie, a dance instructress at the Hammersmith Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, withdrawn and lost after his return from the trenches. One night, 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 wounded and shellshocked come, seeking their country's support. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her well-to-do 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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:13:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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"--… (more)

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