Saturday 1 January 2022

The Undertow

Finished December 29
The Undertow by Jo Baker

This historical fiction novel follows four generations of one family, the Hastings, over time. The first generation's story begins in 1914 as William is about to leave for the navy and service in World War I. He is married, but very young, and promises to send postcards to his wife as his ship stops in different ports. 
The second generation is his son Billy, who starts his first job as a grocery delivery boy, and develops into a champion track cyclist. He too serves in a war, as part of the D-Day landings of World War II. 
The third generation has Billy's son Will, who fights for his own bodily autonomy and career choice, as he deals with a physical handicap, and a difficult relationship with his father. Will becomes a professor at Oxford University, but his home life isn't without difficulty.
Will's daughter Billie is the fourth generation, and she too fights for her own choice for her future, becoming an artist in present-day London, and grappling with her relationships with both her father and grandfather. 
This was an interesting look at family dynamics as each generation finds its own way, and struggles against the expectations of the previous one. Each has their own challenges with some internal and others external. 

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