Knowing what lay in its wake

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Man_from_India

Senior Member
India
I found this in The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern:

"Okay, Sebastian, let's go." the car jerked forward, knowing what lay in its wake: a two-hour wait beside a bunch of pretentious automobiles he had nothing in common with.
What is the meaning of the bold part of the sentence?
Context: The daughter paid a visit to her parents. And her parents live in a highly secured mansion, the entrance gate of which has a electrical security checking system. The daughter stopped her car before the system, and as she pressed the intercom a male voice answer and talked something rubbish. Then she informed him that it was his daughter and please stop those silly stuff. The parents burst out into laughter. Then the gate opened up. Here the daughter calls her car by Sebastian.
 
  • Frank Smith

    Senior Member
    ENGLISH-SCOTLAND
    I think its a misuse of the phrase "in its wake" here. From context, the phrase required here is "what lay ahead of it". Something that lies in your wake is behind you either geographically or in time or both.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    India
    I think its a misuse of the phrase "in its wake" here. From context, the phrase required here is "what lay ahead of it". Something that lies in your wake is behind you either geographically or in time or both.
    What you said I believed and considered. But I guess there might be something that we both are missing.
    Is there any possibility of it to mean "consciously"?
    I mean it is just my guess.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is there any possibility of it to mean "consciously"? No, there is not a hope of it meaning that. All meanings, literal and figurative, refer to the path or time behind something (usually, but not always, a ship).
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with Frank (post #2); the author misused the phrase, and the editor (if there was an editor; was this a self-published book?) somehow missed it.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    India
    I agree with Frank (post #2); the author misused the phrase, and the editor (if there was an editor; was this a self-published book?) somehow missed it.
    I don't know that. I suppose it is not. But what I know for sure it is a best-seller and very popular novel and the author as well.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    India
    I guess the assumption Frank made in post #3 is not correct. It will be proved if you read the subsequent lines. May I add the page?
     

    Frank Smith

    Senior Member
    ENGLISH-SCOTLAND
    I am inclined to go with my second interpretaion (post 3) as the author is well known and a native English speaker (she is Irish).
     

    Frank Smith

    Senior Member
    ENGLISH-SCOTLAND
    Not at all ManfromIndia. No offence was taken. I was just clarifying my answers. As I have already stated, the more I understand the context and the author, the more I think the phrase "lay in its wake" is correctly used in the sense of "what the car left behind it ... two hours of etc etc"
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    India
    But that is not right. In the story, the car didn't wait before the gate too long. As soon as the gate was open the car start moving towards the parking lot, where the family's expensive are parked.
    "Okay, Sebastian, let's go." the car jerked forward, knowing what lay in its wake: a two-hour wait beside a bunch of pretentious automobiles he had nothing in common with.
    By the way the car she (the daughter) was driving is very poor in condition. And is inexpensive.
     

    Frank Smith

    Senior Member
    ENGLISH-SCOTLAND
    Then it's back to my first interpretation in post 2! The only way to settle this is to quote the chapter and page number so we can read the surrounding paragraphs.
    The other possibility is that in Irish English "in its wake" carries the added possible meaning of "ahead of it". This is not as silly as you might think. Many Irish people say good evening to you with the words :good night. So there is a clear possibility this may be an "Irishism"
     

    Frank Smith

    Senior Member
    ENGLISH-SCOTLAND
    Yes we really need an Irish person to help us here. I think you can post a link to the appropriate extract rather than upload it here. Check the forum rules or ask a moderator.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It seems a mistake to me. "Popular" and "well-written/well-edited" are often at opposite ends of the spectrum. The writing is very strange and it seems that the point of view changes within the paragraph - it seems we're listening to the car's thoughts and along comes "my mum's SUV".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I found the text here, without having to download ManfI's link:).

    Since the narrator subsequently says this:
    "Leave the engine running, I'll be out in two hours max."
    it seems pretty clear that "what lay in its wake" is a mistake. Perhaps the writer intended to write "what lay in wait for it".



    PS. Just to add: the "he" in the original sentence seems decidedly odd too, especially as the car has just been referred to as "it".
     
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