Set in post-WWI England, many people want to forget what has gone before and yet, for many, this is not possible. Parents have lost their sons, wives their husbands, siblings their brothers. For those who have come back, even if they are lucky enough to be ‘whole’ physically, mentally they are suffering; survivors’ guilt, nervous shock from the horrors they have seen, nightmares, the list is endless.
However, Wake doesn’t focus on these lost or broken men but rather on their women – a sister, a mother and a lover. Each of them are struggling to adjust to the loss they have suffered, and the change in their circumstances that the end of war has brought, such as a loss of freedom, a change in job, a change in social status. Their three stories represent the three definitions of the word ‘wake’: 1) emerge or cause to emerge form sleep; 2) ritual for the dead; 3) consequence or aftermath. As the novel progresses their stories skirt each other, then intertwine as each of the women search for answers. While describing the women’s lives over five days in November 1920, Hope movingly describes the country’s preparations for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which underpins this story. Day five is the day the soldier is interred in his final resting place and the day all three women find an answer to the questions that have been haunting them.
This is probably one of the most accomplished debut novels I have ever read and I can’t wait to read The Ballroom.
Although I enjoy science fiction, I am more of a dystopia girl than space opera. But I had read a couple of good reviews of the long way to a small angry planet and thought I would give it a go. And I have to say I LOVED it!
Not only has Becky Chambers created a brilliantly realised world with engaging characters and an interesting storyline, she has also managed to tackle the ‘big questions’ head on including racism, gender stererotyping and the ethics of bio-engineering, without being heavy-handed. It really made me think and I felt quite bereft when I finished the novel – I missed the characters!
I hope there’s a sequel…
I recently read about a social media campaign in the US to encourage people to adopt from animal shelters rather than buy from pet shops as apparently some people think that animals from shelters are ‘damaged’. Of course this is not very often the case. Yes abused animals (if they are lucky) are rescued and end up in shelters but the majority of animals are handed over to shelters because they have become an inconvenience or their owner’s circumstances have changed – maybe the owner can’t afford to keep them anymore or they have become too ill to look after the pet or perhaps they are relocating and can’t take the pet with them, etc.
So I thought I would share our pet adoption story. We got our cat, Baron Von Tibblesworth (Tibbles for short), from an RSPCA shelter in Melbourne back in July 2005 and he has brought us nothing but joy (well, some irritation too – he is a cat after all!) since we adopted him. He has entertained us, provided comfort to us when we are feeling tired or sick, and cuddled with us for almost 11 years now. He has travelled with us every time we have moved (we have relocated internationally three times, see a previous post) and he took all of these moves in his stride (he is very pragmatic, even by cat standards). As long as he has his cat bed, his food and access to a sunny spot he is absolutely fine! We have never regretted adopting Tibbles and we see him as one of the family.
So if you are thinking of getting a pet, do your research and make sure you include a visit to your local shelter. Visit the RSPCA UK or RSPCA Australia websites for details.