Monday, May 25, 2015

The Poppy Factory - Review

Today I'm taking a moment to remember my kind-of-Grandfather - Arthur Cosby Bowden who was my grandmother's first husband.  By all accounts he was a kind man, smart and ambitious and he died in Italy on the march to Rome leaving behind a wife and 8 month old baby girl.  He's buried far from home in the American Cemetery in Florence.
I also want to take a moment to think of all the families - past, present and future - whose timelines will forever be measured in before the knock on the door or the phone rang and after the got the news.

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Jess's transition into real life after serving as a medic in Afghanistan wasn't the easy step she thought it would be.  She finds her self trapped by her memories and lashing out at those she loves.

After a much earlier war Rose struggles with her husband's return which hasn't been quite what she expected.

Divided by 100 years can Rose's diary help Jess find her way?

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  The Forgotten  Seamstress (review here) was one of my favorite books of 2014 and I was excited to see more from Trenow.

My Impression:  I'm always a little scared to start a book by an author that I've really loved because I worry they'll let me down.  I'm very pleased to say that Trenow didn't let me down!  There are some similarities to this and The Forgotton Seamstress.  Both books involve 2 different timelines which each featuring a strong woman in a challenging situation.  The present timeline is told as it's happening whereas the older timeline is told in some narrative form - recordings in The Forgotten Seamstress and diary entries in The Poppy Factory.  But while the framework is similar the feel of the book is completely different.
I connected with Jess right away.  She's an interesting character and while she makes some terrible choices it's easy to understand why.  Trenow does a good job making her sympathetic even when I wanted to reach into the book, grab Jess by the shoulders and give her a good shake.  Not only did I hurt for her but I felt so sorry for Nate and Jess's parents as they were doing their absolute best to help her.
We get Rose's story in diary entries which isn't always a good thing for me.  In this case I never had any difficulty connecting to Rose or getting a sense of her voice.  It was a bit heartbreaking to watch Rose's optimism be replaced with worry and fear but I couldn't help but admire her.
Before reading this I wasn't aware the The Poppy Factory existed but I was interested to learn that this actually exists.
I enjoyed this as much as The Forgotten Seamstress though there were a few places that felt just a little too long.  This wasn't the easiest of reads giving the intense emotional issues but I felt that it was a worthwhile read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I love how Trenow weaves 2 different timelines together so smoothly.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely.  If you enjoy books with vivid characters I think you would enjoy this book.

Challenges Met?


  1. Two stories separated by many years and diary entires are two devices that are used so much now... but when it's done well, I almost always enjoy the result. This one sounds like a winner!

  2. I've not been aware of this author, but I do like the two timelines and a diary. I agree that this is a device that used often these days, but it's one that I am drawn to. I've never kept a diary myself (is a blog a diary?). I'm going to put this one on my list. And perhaps the previous book by this author as well. Thanks for sharing about it and also thanks for sharing your personal story about your 'Grandfather'. Our gratitude always for the service of individuals in the military. Always.

  3. I didn't see your review until today. I like the sound of this book, I have lots of books about females serving in the military and their experiences, during and post war life.

    Great tribute to your grandmothers first husband. πŸ’—πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

  4. I love books like this! The dual timelines, especially when it involves war time issues. I haven't read this author before, but it sounds like I should.

  5. This sounds like a wonderful book! Dual timelines can sometimes confuse me but I also like them.
    Thanks for sharing!