I was really excited about this book due to my love for family sagas, but it didn’t turn out as I expected.

The undertow Jo baker

The story follows the family history of the Hastings since the Great War, when Will joins the army and leaves Amelia pregnant and living with her in-laws. They have a correspondence during the war and Will sends postcards of the places where he is stationed, postcards that will be kept in an album for the generations of Hastings to discover.

All the descendents of the generations to come are, somehow, miserable: Amelia will have a hard time raising her child alone, and her son, Will, is going to be a great athlete, but never to the point of winning important competitions due to his poor upbringing. Will’s son (also called Will) is born with a physical disability, which is more shameful taking into account his father’s love for physical activities; the boy is good at studying and will become a professor in Oxford, but he will never get rid of the feeling that he isn’t good enough. And finally my favourite part: set in the present age and about Billie, a young woman who doesn’t know if she should continue pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.

The picture book Jo Baker

My copy of the book

The album appears in the story here and there, but it’s not the guide along the narration. We get to know certain scenes of the life of the Hastings, and I felt like some parts needed further development: in one chapter a scene is described in detail and, in the next, several years have passed and we are talking about different things (or people!), so I would like to have explanations in between in order to truly understand the characters.

In summary, I liked the book – the story of several generations of a British family, their differences and the weight they carry from the past – but I couldn’t help feeling something important was missing.

rakin3The picture book
Jo Baker
450 pages, Portobello Books (British edition)
Read My Own Damn Books: 7th book