• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 5, 2019)
In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I.
1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie believes he might still be alive.
Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis was wounded. He was certain it was a fatal wound—that he saw his brother die—but as time passes, Harry begins questioning his memory of what happened. Could Francis, like many soldiers, merely be lost and confused somewhere? Hired by grieving families, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph gravesites. As he travels through battle-scarred France and Belgium gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence of Francis.
When Edie receives a mysterious photograph of Francis, she is more convinced than ever he might still be alive. And so, she embarks on a journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone? And if he isn’t, then why hasn’t he come home?
As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover.
Artful and incredibly moving, The Poppy Wife tells the unforgettable story of the soldiers lost amid the chaos and ruins, and those who were desperate to find them.
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It has been four years since Edie Blythe has seen her husband, Francis, alive. He is officially missing, but presumed dead in the Great War. When Edie receives a picture of Francis in the mail, she believes that he is out there somewhere, waiting to be found. Edie sends her brother-in-law, Harry on a mission to find Francis or his grave. After the war, Harry has taken a job photographing graves or deceased service men for loved ones, now his brother is one more to add to the list. As Harry returns to the war-ravaged landscape that he last knew as a soldier, the memories come flooding back and he struggles with the day that he left his brother for dead.
The Poppy Wife is a journey of finding things that are lost and examining the state of the world post World War I. I knew that many soldiers had been listed as missing after the War and that some were alive with no memory of life before; however, the impact that these missing men had on individual lives and whole town was immense. The writing portrayed an air of melancholy wherever the characters went and seemed to carry a weight with them throughout the story. While I expected the story to be about Edie's journey, it was mostly told through Harry's point of view and conveyed the psychological toll of surviving the War, revisiting the ravaged towns where he fought and finding closure. Edie's journey was also about finding closure, but focused more on discovering just what her husband as well as the other men went through during the war. The descriptions in the book took on the heavy task of describing a world torn apart and a people trying desperately to rebuild in the face of grief from many angles to accurately describe the overwhelming feeling post World War I.
About Caroline Scott
Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history, with a PhD from Durham University. Born in the UK, Caroline currently resides in France. The Poppy Wife is partially inspired by her family history.