Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: June 17, 2014

A captivating story of two young women, bound together by the tragedy of two very different wars. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn and Maureen Lee. For Jess and Rose, the realities of war have terrible repercussions… 2012 and Jess, an army medic, is back home following her tour of Afghanistan. Shell-shocked by what she has seen, she wonders if her life will ever be the same again. Can help come through her great-grandmother Rose’s diaries? 1922 and Rose has just welcomed her beloved husband Alfie home from the First World War. But the homecoming is not what Rose had expected; Alfie returns from war a changed man, and not the same person Rose married. As he struggles to find work and to cope with life, Rose struggles with temptation… Can an old factory, set up to help injured soldiers, help Jess, Rose and Alfie and save them from the heartache of war?

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The flood on WWI fiction might be wearing on some, but I am not among them. No, I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of this craze and honestly hope more authors jump on board because I love what I'm seeing. This Is How I'd Love YouLies Told in Silence, WakeStella BainLetters from SkyeThe Ambassador's Daughter... it just keeps getting better which leads me to my latest read, Liz Trenow's The Poppy Factory. 

I make no secret of my admiration for this author, but even I was skeptical of her subject matter this go round. PTSD in war fiction isn't the most original story line, it's been done and well at that, but Trenow pulled it off. Uniting two generations and two conflicts in a single story line, she managed to bridge decades of medical research to give readers a comprehensive view of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the struggles faced by those living with the condition. 

Another thing I liked about this piece was Trenow's ability to foster an emotional relationship between her readers and characters they never actually meet. Unlike Jess, Rose and Alfie exist in the pages of old diaries, making their appearances both intimate and imprecise. We don't see every moment of their lives, don't understand everything facet of their personality, but we still empathize with Rose's tumultuous marriage and Alfie's traumatic front line experience. 

There are few authors who I confidently recommend without hesitation, but at the end of the day, Liz Trenow definitely makes the list. The Poppy Factory is easily the heaviest of her books, but it is no less moving than The Last Telegram or The Forgotten Seamstress. Highly recommended to one and all. 

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These poppies they make – and they sell in their tens of thousands now – are not just a symbol of loss and sadness, I’ve come to understand. They are also a reminder of how important it is for the rest of us to go on living the best and fullest lives possible, in honour of those who didn’t survive.
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1 comment:

Colleen Turner said...

I cannot wait to read this now, even more than I already wanted to! Thank you for the awesome and informative review!!