A novel published a year earlier by the author of Longbourn, The Undertow (2012) is Jo Baker’s American debut. Set in Britain, it follows four generations of the Hastings family from World War I to the present.
William Hastings is a young factory worker who does not survive serving in the British navy during World War I, but his wife Amelia raises their son and remains faithful to his memory. Billy serves during World War II and survives to marry and produce children, including son Will. His crippling medical condition doesn’t prevent him from becoming a university professor, although his marriage is not a happy one. The family stretches into the present with Billie, a London artist.
This story follows the ups and downs of a twentieth century family set against the backdrop of social and political turbulence. It is unpredictable and honest in its descriptions of their struggles, disappointments, and triumphs.