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In Hope's debut novel, the second anniversary of Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) is approaching, but the wounds caused by the war are far from healed in the lives of her three protagonists. Ada's inability to let go of her dead son is causing her marriage to fail, Evelyn has allowed the loss of her husband to harden her heart, and Hettie is frustrated by her brother's "shell shock," which keeps him from financially supporting her family. The three women's stories are interspersed with scenes describing the journey of the body of the English "Unknown Soldier" from a field in France to Westminster Abbey. -VERDICT This is a moving read about the emotional paralysis caused by grief and uncertainty. Hope creates three very different main characters who are all sympathetic, even in their worst moments, and each completes a believable emotional journey over the course of the book. The inclusion of the Unknown Soldier allows for a satisfying resolution that acknowledges the importance of memorializing the dead even as the protagonists finally begin to imagine new beginnings for themselves. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/13.] (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Hope's confident, well-crafted debut follows a trio of English women during the grim years after WWI, when no British family was left unscathed. Consequently, the novel is pervaded by a sense of absence and constant aching that underlies the women's need to carry on. Ada, a grieving mother, is consumed by her son's death; Hettie, a dance hall girl, waits resentfully for her shell-shocked brother to find a job; and Evelyn, a worker in a veterans' relief office, takes pride in her ability to bury her emotional self, a quality which keeps her at her desk years after coworkers have quit. Each of the women's lives is defined by loss, and as the book progresses, the stories of their dead and broken men begin to mesh. The overwhelming devastation of the war would be enough to justify the depressive grayness of the book, but Hope darkens the mood further by presenting a single tragedy from several perspectives. Though these characters may not be granted closure, they do get a chance at freedom. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Wake is skillfully written from the outset, though the initial premise doesn't feel especially groundbreaking: in post-WWI London, three ordinary women cope with their stagnant lives. Hettie partners single men at a Hammersmith dance hall to support her mother and shell-shocked brother, upper-class Evelyn works as a pension clerk while mourning her lover, and Ada can't move past her soldier son's death. Hope then proceeds to color in their personal histories, revealing the distinctiveness of each character and situation over five days, during the lead-up to the unveiling of the Unknown Warrior's tomb in Westminster Abbey. As their circumstances change and new people enter their lives, the women are spurred to action. Likewise, as these characters' stories and others' are intermixed, readers will be flipping pages to discover their tragic connection. The background details are vivid, from a crowded West End jazz club to the trenches of northern France, both in 1920 and earlier. This increasingly riveting novel about war's futility, grief, remembrance, and renewal is a solid effort timed just right for the WWI centenary.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist