Book Review: Wake by Anna Hope

Wake by Anna Hope
Published by Random House Publishing Group on 2014-02-11
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary, War & Military
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Random House

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 Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her.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.

I received this book for free from Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Review:

Nope. No.  Not at all.  WAKE by Anna Hope did not work for me.  The problems were plentiful and the good things.. well, good thing, it was scarce.  I was so angry through this book but even that anger sputtered and died as I felt myself careening toward an end that was sure to disappoint.  And, honestly, maybe that’s exactly what that ending was supposed to do.  I hate literary devices like the one used to end WAKE and that was the final nail in the coffin for me.

The only, and I do mean only, reason WAKE gets a generous two-star rating from me is because of a single story that’s told.  A story that lays out the events of three men on the front and finally put my mind at ease.  Why didn’t Matthew come home and why didn’t his mother get a second letter?  That was the only pressing question I had, and even so, it was not a hard pressure at all.  Just a mild…. ok, I’m a bit interested.

The whole four-person narration thing, and one of those narrators being a collective people suffering from the war, did not work at all.  I was constantly confusing Evelyn and Hettie and their brothers (Ed and Fred?).  I still had to check to see which brother belonged to which girl, and then which girl belonged where.  Then I’d think, Oh yeah.. Hettie is the dancer and Evelyn the pensioner…but then the brothers would enter the picture or something would happen with some other man.. Robin or Gus or.. oh man, I don’t know. I’m so confused and it wasn’t at all engrossing like I had hoped it would be.

I walked away from WAKE with a splitting headache and a desire to kick something.. my wall or a desk.  I was frustrated and angry and, yes, as I said before, the ending it sucked.  I hate, hate, hate tricks and “literary expressions” like the one used to end WAKE.  I would really only recommend this book as a doorstop – I don’t get what all the people out there are raving about.  Unless you are really, really good with keeping names and places and professions straight in your head while a bunch of random strangers are thrown at you with the fourth narrative (which should have been the clear, center focus of the book and it was not), steer clear of this one.

Check out these reviews!

  • Wake is not one to miss, and in the centenary of WWI, essential reading.“ –  Book Snob
  • “Wake was an intelligent, thoughtful read and I would love for there to be a follow up.” – Time Waits for No Mum
  • “Anna Hope wove her spell and managed to conjure up an intriguing tale, quite rich with emotion that held me entranced until the last page.” – Lynn’s Book Blog

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