I have finally finished Wake by Anna Hope. This novel is absolutely exquisite, right down to the last (half) sentence.
I spoke about my first impressions of this story earlier on the blog, and I was becoming so infatuated and intoxicated by the plot and characters that I read faster and faster after writing that post, and finished the small but profound novel rather quickly. It left me with so many feelings, with both a melancholy sadness and a sense of hope and optimism, and I can say without hesitation that it is the best book I’ve read recently.
As I mentioned previously, the writing style is lovely, detailed but also soft and flowing, and the story is told with such tender care and attention to all the little bits and pieces that are necessary to create and inhabit a world of such complex characters. The three main female protagonists, Hettie, Evelyn and Ada, are vastly different in their preoccupations and circumstances, but they are each subtly and intricately connected in ways that surprised and astonished me. Hope describes each narrative so vividly and with such feeling that it is easy to see how the three women are joined and how their lives are intertwined. It is also fascinating to witness how similar they are in their feelings and sentiments, though, and this is the true strength of the novel for me – it explores mourning, the aftermath of war and loss, with grace and beauty. I learned a great deal about World War I in terms of history and logistics, but I was also made aware of the emotional toll it took on so many people, on entire nations. Hope captured the setting and time period so expertly, and I was more than a little impressed and totally sucked in.
There were several profound moments in the novel as well, that have stayed with me and that I continue to return to in my mind. For example, the scene when Ada visits the mysterious woman who can speak to the dead is heartbreaking and somewhat frightening, but it is also strangely comforting when the woman suggests that Ada return her attentions to her living husband, to the love that still exists around her. This advice encourages Ada to let go of her heartache, open her heart once again and move forward and mend her relationship with a man she can truly depend on. Another example of a moving and powerful scene is when Evelyn confronts her brother Ed about some of his dishonourable actions during the war, and he explains to her that war always wins, that no side is truly victorious because war always takes something from its participants and irrevocably changes and damages them beyond repair. This was a depressing realization but an important idea to note and be conscious of. Finally, the conclusion of the novel is breathtaking in its simplicity, as Hettie watches a man she is momentarily infatuated with walk toward the woman he is in love with. This is a woman the reader has grown attached to and begun to root for, but we are also partial toward Hettie and want her happiness and freedom, so it is a moment of conflict for the reader, who must acknowledge the trickiness of life, the difficulty of picking sides. The whole story, from beginning to end, is simple yet memorable, and I won’t soon forget it.
I am so very happy that I finally picked up Wake by Anna Hope. It is a masterpiece – just the right length, just the right amount of detail and intricacy, just the right focus on and development of each character. It is a wonderful example of the real art of storytelling and Hope is an incredible author who I hope to encounter again in my literary future!
❥❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart