It is November 1920 and Britain is awaiting the arrival of The Unknown Warrior from France.
Hettie dances with men for sixpence at a local dance hall but she wants more from life. Living with her mother and her brother, who hasn't been the same since the war, Hettie has to give half of her earnings to her mother, leaving very little money for herself. While her best friend Diana goes on dates and is lavished with expensive gifts, Hettie has little choice but to stay home and can't even afford to buy herself a new dress for work. Hettie craves Diana's lifestyle but it doesn't seem possible for a girl like her.
Evelyn works at the pensions office, dealing with the aftermath of war on a daily basis. She's been hardened by the war and loss and can't see a way to move on.
Ada sees visions of the son she lost during the war. Her grief is driving a wedge between her and her husband, Jack but she can't let go of Michael. One day, a young man arrives at her door, bringing with him a secret he has been keeping since the war. Hettie, Evelyn and Ada don't know each other but this secret will bind them.
Told over five days, Wake is a beautiful debut novel about the effects of war, for both those sent away to fight in a foreign country and those left behind to deal with the consequences. Hettie, Evelyn and Ada have never met but their lives have all been scarred by the war. I enjoyed all three women's stories but I was particularly drawn to Ada. Her grief is still so raw and overwhelming that it seeped from the pages of the book. Ada knows she is pushing Jack away but he can't understand her inability to let go and try to move forward. The loss of a child is such an emotional subject and my heart went out to Ada and her struggles.
I thought that Wake was a wonderful book, told simply but powerfully. I read the whole book in a day as I didn't want to put it down, eager to discover more of Hettie, Evelyn and Ada's stories.