Wake by Anna Hope Is A Post-World War 1 Masterpiece of Intersecting Lives

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< US Cover

Wake:
1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep
2) Ritual for the dead
3) Consequence or aftermath.

The idea for a commemoration for World War I in England came into being in 1920, from the mind of a British army chaplain. The chaplain, in a letter to the Dean of Westminster, talked about how he had seen, 4 years prior, a wooden cross in Armentières (a northern French city) marked only with, in pencil, “An Unknown British Soldier.” The case was made for a memorial for an unknown soldier, for a great reason. Because the deceased serviceman’s name was not known, it showed war at its worst: his social, economic, and royal ranks were stripped. Without any of these, he belonged to all the people.

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UK Cover; Copy I Received, Due To Requesting Even Before UK Release >

Wake, Anna Hope’s debut novel, takes place in the 5 days between the exhuming of the British Unknown Soldier and his burial. The book follows 3 London women: Hettie, from west London, who supports her war-wounded brother and herself by dancing with former soldiers, some who have lost limbs, for sixpence a waltz; Evelyn, after giving up her nobility due to her lover’s disappearance during the war, who works in the Pensions Office; and Ada, who is plagued by the loss of her son Michael, who disappeared in the war.

These women’s stories all intersect in ways they do not know, but are uncovered by the reader, piece by piece, over the 5 days the book takes place in. We learn the fate of Michael, and how his death has impacted Ada, Evelyn, and Hettie, all in some way. These 3 women feel so much heartache, so much pain, over these 5 days, almost too much to bear, but just enough to be perfect.

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Tomb Of The British Unknown Soldier. Credit Here.

Anna Hope has written a true masterpiece with Wake. It does not merely show 3 women and their lives; it does show this, but also shows how each life affects the others. These women do not directly know each other, but through their family members they feel each others’ pain, their loss. The book is written without sentimentality, and with a prose that does not exaggerate, just shows like real life, pain. The writing is on par with Ian McEwan, who also told a story of the loss that comes from war (Atonement). The novel has direct messages for today’s world, for those both suffering from mental and physical wounds from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also from men and women suffering from wounds linked to rape, torture, and other unthinkable horrors.

The greatest thing that I took away from Wake was the underlying message. When the ceremony takes place for the Unknown Soldier, all 3 women realize it is time to get up, brush off, and, well, “dance again.” Hope strives to show this for our time too, to not forget what happened during wars, but not let it ruin us. She hopes to say that no matter what, a brighter future is always ahead. She achieves this, along with a book that will not leave a person’s memory for a very long time. If ever.

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Anna Hope~ Author Bio:

Anna Hope is an English writer and actress from Manchester. She is perhaps best known for her Doctor Who role of Novice Hame. She was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, and Birkbeck College, London.

Anna’s powerful first novel, Wake, sold to Transworld Publishers in a seven-way auction. Set over the course of five days in 1920, Wake weaves the stories of three women around the journey of the Unknown Soldier, from its excavation in Northern France to Armistice Day at Westminster Abbey. US rights were pre-empted by Susan Kamil at Random House.

Thanks To Doubleday UK For A Review Copy. I have provided an honest review in return.

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