Completed: February 21, 2014
Length: 304 Pages
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
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 Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her.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.Fiction or Non-Fiction? Genre?: Historical Fiction.
What Lead You to Pick-up This Book?: hm... I think I saw it on a list of books out in 2014 and thought it sounded good. It was on Netgalley, so I grabbed a copy.
Summarize the Plot: This book takes place over 5 days. WWI is over, but the men and women of this novel are still dealing with things in their own way. The novel follows three women over these five days: Hettie, Evelyn, and Ada. Hettie is a dance instructor at a local dance club. She is one of the women that men pay to dance with. She is still living at home with her mother and her emotionally-disturbed brother. One night she meets a wealthy man and takes a shine to him. She thinks that he likes her as much, but things are not always as they seem. Then there is Evelyn. She is wealthy, but chooses to live in a flat and work for the war department at the Pension Exchange. She is dealing with her own loss from the war and trying to deal with her brother who is dealing with different demons in different ways. Lastly, there is Ada. She has not taken the loss of her son well and her husband has grown distant from her. Then a young man shows up at her door and sets everything back in motion for her. The three characters wind up with unknown connections to each other, but they are also connected by the moving of an unknown soldiers body as it moves towards its final resting place.
What Did You Like Most About This Book?: I really liked that the book took place after the war. It still illuminates the tragic events, but it also shows what it is like for the people afterwards. The war may be over, but there are still many things to deal with. It is a very humanizing story. Plus, it is about the women who don't always get as much attention in the overall picture of war. It doesn't just show them, though. They interact with men and we get to see their sides of things, too.
What Did You Like the Least?: There is a question that specifically pertains to my problem with this book, so I will mention it there. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this book and have no major complaints.
What Did You Think of the Writing Style?: This is a debut novel, but all ready Anna Hope is a fantastic author. I was drawn in right away and found that I was eager to turn the pages and find out what happened next. I actually was having e-reader issues when I first started this book and read the first half or so on my computer. I didn't mind at all. I really look forward to seeing where her writing takes her next.
What Did You Think of the Main Character?: As I mentioned above, the book follows Hettie, Evelyn, and Ada. I have to say that I enjoyed them all. In many ways they have grown up very differently and had very different experiences during the war, but on the other hand they are very much the same. The war touches everyone and makes complete strangers similar to one anther. It does turn out that there are connecting lines between the characters, but that isn't entirely apparent in the beginning and doesn't always mean the characters themselves are even aware of it. I enjoyed learning about all three of them and seeing things from their points of view.
What Did You Think of the Ending?: *ahem* I finished this book in February. It has taken me this long to review the book... I still remember the book very clearly considering it has been so long. I would even go to say that it might have been one of my top reads of the year... And then the ending happened. I was reading an e-galley and thought maybe there was something wrong with it. I finally got definite confirmation today that there was nothing at all wrong. What do I even say? I hated the ending. I glanced around Goodreads, though, and no one said anything about it... I am not sure if I would have liked it better if I didn't think it was some sort of error?
I am glad I don't rate books because I am not sure what I would even give this one... A great rating for the book and then a separate rating with the ending? It has been a couple months and I still have no idea what to think.
So, recommended, but with a warning...