Book Review

The Poppy Field – Deborah Carr

As we approach the centenary of the end of the First World War, and I find myself surrounded by the fabric poppies that I am making for a remembrance event, I am honoured to be able to talk to you today about The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr.

BLURB:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

You can purchase your copy of The Poppy Field here.

The Poppy Field Cover

REVIEW:

The Poppy Field is a poignant story of the parallels between two women living 100 years apart, who find themselves drawn to the same building in France. The book shifts between the present day and the latter half of the First World War, as Gemma, our modern day nurse, unravels the tale of Alice’s war, whilst searching for her own sense of peace.

World War One, the Great War, was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but the world we live in today sometimes seems to be headed full circle, as reflected by Tom’s experiences in Kabul, and even by the injuries witnessed by Gemma working in a UK trauma centre.

Whilst I enjoyed Gemma’s part of the story as she tried to settle her personal demons whilst renovating the old farmhouse, it was Alice’s story that really got under my skin, and lit a fire under my inner war historian. Whilst the true horrors of the casualty clearing stations where VADs like Alice spent their war are just unthinkable, Deborah Carr’s writing brought them to life through her sensitive characterisation of the varied patients that passed through them. I was intrigued to see mention of the “casualty dogs” as this was not something that I had come across before, but have since read up on further. I had no idea that dogs were used in this way during the war.

There were a number of times when reading this book when my emotions got the better of me, but there is one particular scene about a quarter of the way in that really got to me, and which I hope Deborah won’t mind me pinpointing (don’t worry, it doesn’t give anything away). In this particular scene there is a conversation between two of the soldiers at the casualty clearing station who are wondering if anyone would remember the soldiers who fought and all the men who died in a hundred years time. Even writing about this now brings a tear to my eye, because as we approach this hundred year mark, yes, we do remember and we will continue to do so.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Poppy Field - Deborah Med

Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs. She became interested in books set in WW1 when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.

She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years. Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WW1 and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year. The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

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Many thanks to Deborah and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. As always, be sure to stop by all the other amazing blogs taking part in the tour.

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