The Undertow by Jo Baker

73%

6 Critic Reviews

Immediate, poignant and rarely predictable, this searchingly observant work captures a huge terrain of personal aspiration against a shifting historical and social background. Impressive.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The American debut of an enthralling new voice: a vivid, indelibly told work of fiction that follows four generations of a family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century—a novel about inheritance, about fate and passion, and about what it means to truly break free of the past.

This is the story of the Hastings family—their secrets, their loves and losses, dreams and heartbreaks—captured in a seamless series of individual moments that span the years between the First World War and the present. The novel opens in 1914 as William, a young factory worker, spends one last evening at home before his departure for the navy . . . His son, Billy, grows into a champion cyclist and will ride into the D-Day landings on a military bicycle . . . His son in turn, Will, struggles with a debilitating handicap to become an Oxford professor in the 1960s . . . And finally, young Billie Hastings makes a life for herself as an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names echo down through the family, so too does the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and truths long buried.

 

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.

 

About Jo Baker

See more books from this Author
Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford and Belfast. The Undertow is her first publication in the United States. She is the author of three previous novels published in the United Kingdom: Offcomer, The Mermaid's Child, and The Telling. She lives in Lancaster.
 
Published May 15, 2012 by Knopf. 354 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction, History, War. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Undertow
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 15 2012

Immediate, poignant and rarely predictable, this searchingly observant work captures a huge terrain of personal aspiration against a shifting historical and social background. Impressive.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Louisa Thomas on Jun 08 2012

“The Undertow” is messy and imperfect. It has a false start and a terrible ending, a few saccharine scenes and a joker whose recurring appearances start to strain. The prose can be jammy.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 26 2012

At times the story’s scope threatens to exceed the author’s grasp, but Baker deftly reins it in for the emotionally charged final third.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Carolyn See on Jun 01 2012

The Hastings family must fend off adversity of all kinds and from every side. Their challenges — so movingly detailed here — provide a profound sense of the whole tumultuous century.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Moira Macdonald on May 27 2012

Jo Baker's "The Undertow" has a quiet, cumulative power; you read it not quite realizing how it's burrowing under your skin, until its beautiful not-quite-an-ending.

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No Charge Bookbunch

Below average
Reviewed by Rosemary Wolfe on Sep 03 2012

The slow movement and long descriptions may try your patience at first.

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Reader Rating for The Undertow
65%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 23 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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Kristi Herbrand

Kristi Herbrand 5 Sep 2013

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