By Anna Hope
Random House, 2014
Set in 1920, Wake tells the story of three women during one week in London, culminating on Armistice Day, when an “unknown British solider” is buried at Westminster Abbey. Hettie is a 19-year old who lives with her mother and brother, and works as a dancer at the Palais in Hammersmith. She gets paid six pence to waltz with single men who come to the popular dance hall. Evelyn is a single woman in her late 20s who works at the Pensions office in Camden Town and has never gotten over a lost love. And Ada is a mother mourning the loss of her son who died during the war. Each chapter of the book recounts one day in this week and as the novel progresses the three women’s stories become increasingly woven together. Additionally, the story of the exhuming of the unknown soldier and his journey to Westminster Abbey for the public burial is peppered between the women’s narratives.
It took me a little while to settle in to this book as I was not sure at first which characters to focus on as the multiple stories were introduced. But once I figured out that Hettie, Ada and Evelyn were the main characters, I settled in and enjoyed their stories and I thought the book came to a satisfying end. I read Wake after I finished the latest season of Downton Abbey, and I enjoyed being further immersed in post-WWI London life. I also liked how Hope explored three distinct female experiences with the war and how all of their lives were changed by it.
I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.