"Gripping. . . . Emotionally powerful. . . . Baker is skilled at evoking not only the distinctive social circumstances of the settings but the essential nature of each character. . . . You can't walk away from her book."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Jo Baker is a novelist with a gift for intimate and atmospheric storytelling. . . . [She] skillfully delineates the currents of social change and the essential human drama that persists. . . . The result is an agile, keenly observed novel that evokes the minuscule rewards and disappointments of the everyday."
--The Financial Times
"Engaging . . . . 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." --The Washington Post
"A poignant, emotionally intense read that illuminates the legacies of love and loss for ordinary people."
"Moving but never sentimental. . . . The Undertow
has a quiet, cumulative power; you read it not quite realizing how it's burrowing under your skin." --The Seattle Times
"Intricate, sensitive. . . . What is the legacy of four generations of loss? For Americans without a direct link to the current conflicts overseas or who get their war news from TV and Twitter, the question can seem like a distant concept. . . . However, this tightly crafted English novel, tracing a family from World War I to Iraq, brings it to life."
--Oprah.com (Book of the Week)
"Some writers let you know you're in safe hands from the start, and Jo Baker is one of them. . . . This drama-rich saga unfolds as a series of intimate family portraits. . . . There are gripping set-pieces, from childbirth to battlefield, all related in cut-glass prose and embedded with telling period detail."
"Emotionally charged. . . . Baker's saga about four generations of the British Hastings family, beginning with a young William sailing off to WWI, explores the effects of war, poverty, dreams, and the difficulties of love."
"Richly evocative . . . Its fast-flowing style, sparky dialogue and lean narrative hops through decades, taking in wars, deaths, births, hardships and dark family secrets. . . . Well crafted and highly readable, [The Undertow]
places Baker at the top end of the list of emerging British literary talent."
--Time Out London
"Deeply affecting. . . . A sweeping drama with real emotional depth."
"An exceptional 20th-century saga. . . . A four-generational span of extraordinary history and ordinary lives, eloquent about the unshared interior worlds of individuals even when connected by the closest of bonds. . . . This searchingly observant work captures a huge terrain of personal aspiration against a shifting historical and social background. Impressive."
(starred) "The Undertow,
so deeply and richly imagined,
one of those books that make you forget to turn off the bedside light. I found myself thinking, just one more page
, and then, just one more chapter.
If what you love is a larger-than-life story with epic dimensions that pulls you in and won't let you go, this is your book."
--Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men