I remembered it only after picking it up in French in a French bookstore and being drawn in by the story and the excellent blurbs – before realizing I shouldn’t buy it because I had the original version back home. : )
This novel is set in London during a period I love – World War I. Specifically, two years after the end of the war. Wake opens as decisions are made to create a monument to the Unknown Soldier on the second anniversary of Armistice Day.
Around this central event, we follow five days in the post-war lives of three women in and around London. Hettie is a dance instructress at a Hammersmith ‘Palais’, earning sixpence a dance and waiting for her life to begin. Evelyn mourns the loss of her lover and deadens all emotion working in an army pensions office. Ada can’t come to grips with the death of her son in France and begins to spot his ghost all around her. A single thread binds the lives of these three women together.
This novel beautifully rendered the lives of these women post-war. Once the celebrations for the end of the war die down, life is supposed to begin again. This novel addresses the complexity of the post-World War I world, and the tremendous impact it had on the wives, mothers, girlfriends and sisters who are struggling to come to terms with the aftermath and the world that is so rapidly changing around them. A beautifully written and evocative novel.