Wake is a potentially poignant and gripping novel that follows three families whose loved ones served in the Great War. The 1920s London setting is presented in an eloquent and intoxicating way as it evokes the invisible shroud that the war had left behind.
The writing is fast paced as readers get into the heads of the three main characters, who wonder if there is life after war. Likewise, getting into the minds of the veterans is both devastating and haunting. Ada sees her dead son in all those who have returned. Hettie’s only purpose in life is to dance professionally to provide for her mother and brother, whom she avoids. Finally, Evelyn wonders who the man is behind the face of her brother, who is alive but broken, while pondering if there is life after losing her betrothed.
It’s hard to tell the difference between the two younger women since their characters seem to morph into one another, but the thread involving Ada, the older mother, helps break this up a bit. The manner of her son’s death in the war is a tragic mystery that connects some of the characters and provides an intriguing angle.
Instead of focusing on survival and resilience, the plot circles around the characters with an ominous sense of continual loss. For readers who allow themselves to be drawn into the emotional hues, this could be a very enjoyable reading experience. The kicker is that the story moves along at a great pace, one full of life, death, love and grief, when it abruptly concludes, thus making this novel catapult to the top of my worst- endings-ever list.