Image courtesy of Random House of Canada.
I don't know what it says about me, but I'm a sucker for anything "World War 1". Put it in a khaki uniform and send it out to fight a pointless, brutal war, and I'll be all over it, book of Rupert Brooke poems in hand.
That bias declared, I'm actually surprised by how much I'm enjoying Anna Hope's debut novel, "Wake", out today. It takes place in the years after the war, and traces the lives of three different women - a mother who has lost her son, a young dancer who falls for a badly damaged mystery man, and (my personal favourite), a woman who works in the office that processes the benefits claims of disabled veterans. There's a mystery in the middle of each of their stories - is that really her son Ada keeps seeing? What is Hettie's handsome stranger tormented by? Why did a soldier storm into Evelyn's office, demanding her brother's address? The action all converges at the funeral of 'the unknown soldier', the ceremonial burial of a British soldier in 1920, meant to stand in for all of the men whose bodies were never identified. Maybe that's why I like Hope's novel (other than the writing, of course, which is vivid and vibrant): it's a different take on the 'great war' story, going inside an event I didn't know that much about, from the perspective of someone other than a gentleman soldier on the front lines (still love you, Birdsong!). Not quite a 'beach read', but certainly a fast-moving, absorbing book that I'd thoroughly recommend. READ MORE
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