Okay, first before I being, let me just say that there are an extraordinarily large number of books that are titled Wake. So this particular book is the one by Anna Hope.
It is set in London, 1920. The two year anniversary of Armistice Day is approaching, and with it, the burial of the Unknown Warrior. The book revolves around three women who were affected by the war: Hettie, whose brother has returned but is not the same; Ada, whose son never returned; and Evelyn, whose lover never returned, but whose brother did. They are bound together, very tenuously. The story is somber and dramatic.
I was really torn about this book. It sounded great, but then about 20 pages in, I was frustrated with the storytelling style: the author goes from woman to woman without any fanfare, and so until you “know” the characters, you have to wonder who you are reading about. By around page 50, I really wondered if I was going to finish it.
But then, I realized I was on page 100, I knew the characters and I was anxious to see how they were all bound together. I wanted to know why Ada was so haunted by her son’s death and why Evelyn was the way she was. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Hettie – the youngest of the three, and how her friend Di would play into that.
There were “fringe” characters as well: Evelyn’s brother, Ed, and her co-worker, Robin. Hettie’s friend, Di (mentioned above) and Hettie’s mother. Ada’s husband, Jack, also affected by the loss of their son. There are also military members who are on the hunt for the Unknown Warrior. Reviews say this is very true to the actual search for the Unknown Warrior.
A nice slice of history in this book – so much is forgotten about the aftermath of the Great War in fiction. It wasn’t all smiles, sugar, and sunshine. Millions were lost, and millions of families across the world were forever changed. This book highlights those losses and the anger survivors felt (not knowing they were feeling “survivor’s guilt”). Great book, if you are a history buff at all, I would recommend it.