On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh
month . . .
November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors, the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.
As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.
In this moving, unforgettable collection, nine top historical fiction authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.
Featuring: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
A young Belgian patriot discovers the German patient she begrudgingly cares for isn't at all what he seems. Wartime lovers reunite decades later to discover they were kept apart by misunderstandings. A young Red Cross volunteer finds first love with a disfigured soldier only to be cruelly separated from him. A dancer struggles to survive and imagine a future in Paris after losing everyone she loved to the war. A timid airman makes a hasty promise to a stranger and finds a new reason to survive the war. A grieving widow vows revenge on the Germans who took so much from her. A disillusioned American airman finally finds a reason to leave Paris nearly two years after the war's end. A British soldier stationed in Dublin to quell the uprising falls in love with an Irish girl. And an English midwife desperately fights for the life of a newborn while her sons fights for his life on a French battlefield.
This is an excellent collection of short stories by nine talented historical fiction authors. While the stories are not interconnected, they do all share a common theme, the Armistice, and these stories really capture the conflicting emotions that the end of the war brings. Of course, there is joy and celebration but also a sense of uncertainty. Is it really over? What comes next? What do we do now? What was it all for? How do we go on as before when none of us will ever be the same?
The stories are wonderfully varied, giving the reader a glimpse into different aspects of the war and life on the home front in Britain, Belgium, and France. Most of the characters in these stories are fictional, but I was introduced to two amazing women I'd not heard of before: Edith Cavell, a British nurse who helped hundreds of Allied soldiers escape German-occupied Brussels and was executed for it, and Anna Coleman Ladd, an artist who used her talents to create lifelike masks for soldiers disfigured in the war. And I was reminded that Ireland was in rebellion during the war, sending boys to fight Germany while those that stayed home fought against British rule. That's something we don't tend to hear much about when discussing the Great War, and that story, "The Photograph" by Kate Kerrigan, added another layer of depth and emotion to the collection.
All nine stories are good. There's not a weak offering among them, though some did resonate with me more than others. "All for the Love of You" by Jennifer Robson, "Something Worth Landing For" by Jessica Brockmole, and "Hush" by Hazel Gaynor stand out as my favorites. The first two mainly because I am a hopeless romantic, and the latter because it is such a haunting, beautiful, bittersweet ending to the war and the collection. Birth, death, and the circle of life; the stillness of peace sweeping across the land was palpable, coming just in time for some, and too late for others. "Not even the end of the war means the war is over. It will never be over for some of us."
All but three of these authors were new to me, and I will definitely be adding their full-length novels to my list. These stories of love and war are beautifully written, encompassing the entire range of emotions and shades of humanity, and will stay with you long after you've finished reading them.
My Review: 4.5 Stars out of 5
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Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and The Great War
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