BookBrowse Reviews The Undertow by Jo Baker

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The Undertow

A Novel

by Jo Baker

The Undertow
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2012, 352 pages
    Dec 2012, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

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About this Book



Four generations of a British family are greatly affected by the World Wars throughout the 20th century

The Hastings are engagingly real, regular folk. They may have their flashes of vision and talent, but mainly they are occupied with securing their comforts in life - love, shelter, enough to eat. The pain and loss of the two World Wars take their toll on the family, tugging on the fates of the surviving members for generations. In Jo Baker's vision, the "undertow" of the title - the strong, slightly sinister pull of large-scale events - exerts an undeniable force on people that isn't always visible from the surface.

Water metaphors swirl through Baker's fiction like hidden currents in a seaside postcard. From literal water-crossings (naval battles in WWI and the all-important landing at Normandy in WWII), Baker moves into the territory of watery nightmares, water breaking in labor, water sloshing in the bath. The overt traumas of war shift and mutate into hidden hurts - tempers and ...

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