Three female characters, each touched by World War I. They all have their own stories to tell about this devastating time in world history, which was especially devastating to the England. There is Evelyn, a pensions clerk, is almost 30 and lives with another "spinster" roommate. Hettie lives with her mother and shell-shocked brother Fred, while working as a dancer. Ada is 45, with a son who never returned from the war and a marriage that's falling apart.
Each of these women are described in an outstanding manner - their thoughts and personalities are distinct. While at first they aren't linked, as the story goes on you begin to understand how they connect, and what the war has done to connect women all over England. Each woman is unhappy and longing for something they cannot find. For Evelyn, she is dealing with the loss of the love of her life. Hettie has lost her brother, and a chance at marriage and happiness. Ada's loss seeps into every aspect of her life, and she longs to know what really happened to her son at the Front.
These stories tie together with that of the Unknown Soldier. I loved that their stories were revealed throughout the novel. I hate the kind of book where it's assumed that the reader is really stupid, and needs every bit explained to them so that they understand. This is a real literary achievement from a debut author, and she adeptly manages the revelatory aspects of the plot with a real understanding of what readers want and need to read.
Man, what a tearjerker this was for me. An exquisitely moving novel, it also manages to keep the historical details authentic and it really adds to the story. I would absolutely read another novel from Anna Hope, and I hope she writes another one soon.
If you liked the emotional drama of Atonement, or historical novels like A.S. Byatt's Possession, you will love this book. I highly, highly recommend.