[473]: Wake by Anna Hope

DSC_0803 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | January 1st, 2014 | Hardback, 304 pages | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

The most effective way to learn History is to experience it through works of fiction. While that statement may be a paradox, it is the most accurate way to describe how I feel about learning History.  Sometimes, cold hard facts do not inspire ravenous curiosity. Reading historical accounts through someone’s personal perspective changes the experience quite drastically.

Anna Hope’s Wake is a good example of that. I’ve learned a thing or two about the war. But the one thing that stood in my mind was the Coalition Forces’ ability to kill their own soldiers should they be found guilty of desertion.

The journey of the unknown soldier.

Set five days before the arrival of the unknown soldier, Wake tells the story of three women with their own struggles during the aftermath of World War I.  The stories of their lives are knotted in the same thread. And as the soldier nears his final resting place, it becomes clear how closely their lives were twined together.


Ada’s marriage  died along with their son who didn’t come back from the war. Haunted by his memories, she goes through life seeing his apparitions. She can’t shake off the feeling that her son never really died. Because without a body to speak of, her hopes are still alive.


Hettie’s life hasn’t been the same since the war. She lost her father to Spanish flu, and her brother came back from the war catatonic from severe shell shock. A dancer by profession, she makes sacrifices to help her mother run their household. One night, she meets an enigmatic rich man who was haunted by his own demons from the war.


Evelyn is a rich heiress who never had to work her entire life. Aggrieved by the untimely death of her lover, she spends her life working at a veterans’ pensions office as an act of self-flagellation. There, she hears every single stories of trauma and injuries suffered by the soldiers who served the country.

One person too many.

As is the prevalent problem with stories told from different points of views, I had a difficulty focusing on the focal point of the story. I found myself unable to keep a consistent interest with all four, the fourth one being a collective group of people who were somehow connected to the unknown soldier. More often, I found myself getting the characters mixed up – which ultimately led to some re-reading sessions that bogged me down whilst in the throes of this novel.

That’s not to say their stories aren’t all that interesting. They are, in their own merits, captivating regardless of how muddled they may be at times. The novel suffered from  too many sub stories that I had a tough time staying focused.

Anna Hope’s Wake is a fascinating take on the stories of people coping after the war. In their own way, the burial of the unknown soldier was their way of letting go and accepting inner peace. Most stories, though unresolved, at least offered underlying hope that each characters’ ghosts were laid to rest along with the soldier.



  • I couldn’t agree more – sometimes it really does help to learn from history fiction books because then you can gather more of an emotional factor into things as well. I like the sounds of this one even though it wasn’t amazing in your opinion or anything. 🙂

  • It’s a maybe. Sure it sounds interesting, but that POV too many makes me wonder

  • I couldn’t agree more Joy, and that is such a poetic way of putting it. The personal historical aspect will always endear us more than just reading something purely factual. We need to be entertained, not educated. It does sound like one too many points of view though. Any more than three, and their voices tend to blur together and it becomes more difficult to differentiate between them sadly. I think the story of the ‘unknown soldier’ is almost a universal memorial. I thought it was just representative of the young men that were sent off to war and died for the cause, but as a theory, not an actual person. Hubby would love this one. Thanks for sharing Joy and sorry that you couldn’t have enjoyed it more <3 Brilliant review.

  • Oh, I don’t really like when a story is told from different point of views. The author really has to pull it off for it to be okay for me. But I’m glad there were still things to enjoy about the book!!

  • The book sounds really interesting, even though I tend to avoid multiple povs. This is one of those serious, in-depth type of reads I need to be in the right mood for. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

  • Sounds interesting but I too have problems with too many POV’s. It’s usually a deterrent to the development of the plot and makes the tale choppy.

  • I always love stories during this period but it’s been a long time since I haven’t read a book like that. I should try again, it would be nice to have somehtinga but different. thanks for the discovery!

  • Wow! Great Review Joy! This sounds SO interesting. I’m really intrigued by the story of the unknown soldier.. and I LOVE books that hint on real history events.. it’s so much more interesting I think. I definitely get what you mean about their being a point where too many points of view become too much! I just get so confused when it’s more than a few people.. and often that takes away from the story! I’ll definitely have to add this one to my TBR list though… looks interesting!

  • Great review Joy. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this one 🙂 But sorry it wasn't perfect :\ And aw. Four point of views? Yeah, I often have issues keeping track of that many, hiih (A) I am interested in reading about the war. Just.. in a YA book, lol :p Not ready for adult books yet 🙂 Seems too boring for me, hah. But I'm glad you are enjoying them 😀 Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  • I used to only like ancient history, but I’m becoming more and more intrigued with modern history as the years go by. Having recently watched The Water Diviner, I am even more intrigued about WWI, especially since it feels like it’s less talked about than WWII for some reason. This book sounds wonderful, and I love the fact that the unknown soldier can be connected to so many people (rightly so as that’s the point of having an unknown soldier’s grave to represent all the lives lost, right?). I’m not even bothered by the multiple viewpoints blurring together – if the story can stand on its on, then I’m in! Wonderful review Joy xx

  • I’m not “into” history… but books like this can get me to take an interest in and learn about things I never would have considered before. I must say books related to anything war have not frequented my shelf… I can’t even recall one I’ve read in the last year! However, this book definitely sounds like something I would enjoy when I am up for the challenge, and I say challenge because I know I’ll be confused with the multiple viewpoint thing. Two viewpoints can confuse me some days haha, confusing me is not hard to do!

  • Faye M.

    Your words ring true, Joy! History is interesting to those who are interested in history, but what about those who aren’t yet want to know about it but don’t have the willingness to be numbed by fact after fact after fact of dates and names, etc? It’s like the Pearl Harbor movie… it’s based on an event that happened in History, yet they told it through a love story between two fictional people. Something like that will definitely catch the people’s attention!

    I will definitely read this one. I can just relate to your intro so much 🙂

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • A movie like Pearl Harbor is actually how I know/remember I’ve WW2. I’m much better when I learn facts about a real events with some kind of other story that may be fiction.