Posts Tagged ‘jessica brockmole’

fall of poppies

Source: Review copy from William Morrow
Rating: ★★★★★

We were a wounded people — walking wounded — with some of us more scarred inside than our exteriors revealed. Who and what was going to glue us together again?


(from “After You’ve Gone” by Evangeline Holland in Fall of Poppies)

Quick Summary: Fall of Poppies is a collection of stories by nine contemporary best-selling authors all set on or near Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Each of these stories beautifully tell a tale of love and hope, but also loss and pain. These stories detail the ways in which World War I, or the Great War, forever upended lives. From a young girl who finds love while helping create facial masks for wounded soldiers to an airman whose fear of loneliness prompts him to make a spontaneous offer right before going into combat, Fall of Poppies shows the impact of war, both the horrifying and the uplifting.

Why I wanted to read it: I’m drawn to stories set during the Great War, and I’ve enjoyed novels by several of these authors in the past.

The Stories: “The Daughter of Belgium” by Marci Jefferson * “The Record Set Right” by Lauren Willig * “All for the Love of You” by Jennifer Robson * “After You’ve Gone” by Evangeline Holland * “Something Worth Landing For” by Jessica Brockmole * “Hour of the Bells” by Heather Webb * “An American Airman in Paris” by Beatriz Williams * “The Photograph” by Kate Kerrigan * “Hush” by Hazel Gaynor

What I liked: I loved all of the stories in this collection, and it was hard to choose my favorites. The settings are varied, including an abandoned hospital in Belguim, an estate in England, the sky above the trenches, and various places in France, and the characters are all unique and memorable in their personalities and circumstances. This variety, coupled with the ability of each of these authors to quickly pull readers into their stories, made me want to read the entire book in one sitting but also made me glad that the chaos of daily life forced me to savor these stories over a longer period.

What I disliked: I only wish that I could’ve spent more time in each of these stories to see how the characters fared years after the war.

Final thoughts: People have a tendency to remember exactly where they were during important dates in history, and Fall of Poppies shows where the characters in each story were — both physically and emotionally — when the Great War ended. In the aftermath of the war, countless people wondered how to move forward and rebuild their lives after they lost so much, but these stories show that even in the midst of all the grief, there was a sense of relief and hope. At a time when I’m culling tons of books from my library and keeping very few new arrivals in the interests of space, Fall of Poppies has earned a permanent spot on the shelves and likely will be re-read at some point. Definitely a contender for my “Best of 2016” list!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on the Fall of Poppies tour.  Click here to follow the tour.

Disclosure: I received Fall of Poppies from William Morrow for review.

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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letters from skye

Source: Review copy from Ballantine Books
Rating: ★★★★★

You can’t believe anything said in wartime.  Emotions are as fleeting as a quiet night.

(from Letters From Skye)

Letters From Skye is a sweet love story set during both the First and Second World Wars and told entirely through letters.  The book centers on the correspondence between Elspeth Dunn, a poet who has never ventured beyond her home on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, and David Graham, a college student from Illinois.  A fan letter from David sparks a friendship that blossoms into love, but there are roadblocks to their happiness, including David’s decision to serve as an ambulance driver in France during World War I.

The novel alternates between Elspeth and David’s letters and those sent by Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, in 1940.  Her mother has always been tight-lipped about her past, but Margaret didn’t realize the extent of her secrets until Elspeth disappears following a bombing raid on their Edinburgh home and Margaret’s announcement that she is engaged to an RAF pilot.  Elspeth knows the dangers of giving your heart away during the chaos of war, and the memories of the first war come flooding back.  Margaret begins a correspondence with her long lost uncle, Finlay, in order to learn the truth about her mother.

Despite being overly sentimental at times, I couldn’t help but love this book.  I loved the characters, from the conflicted and passionate Elspeth and the fearless and sweet Davey to the curious and feisty Margaret.  Jessica Brockmole manages through letters to not only create believable characters, but she also paints a beautiful picture of the landscape of Skye and evokes the worry and desperation that become so commonplace during wartime.  I was invested in the story from the first letter, and Brockmole’s pacing was so good, I was on the edge of my seat even when I was pretty sure how it would all play out.

I usually prefer a little more history and depth in wartime romances, but Letters From Skye made up for it with relatable, endearing characters, family secrets, and of course, the lost art of letter writing.  Brockmole emphasizes the difficult choices made during wartime and shows how a simple letter can bind people together forever and turn someone’s world upside down in a single moment.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on Letters From Skye tour. To follow the tour, click here.

historical fiction reading challenge

Book 25 for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Disclosure: I received Letters From Skye from Ballantine Books for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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