Review: The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow


Title: The Poppy Factory

Author: Liz Trenow

Published: Avon: HarperCollins UK November 2014

Read an extract

Status: Read from November 14 to 15, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the LightBrigade}

My Thoughts:

Liz Trenow uses dual narratives to explore the themes of loss, love, war and post traumatic stress disorder in The Poppy Factory, a moving story of two women’s experiences of war.

Jess has just returned to London after spending six months as an army medic in Afghanistan. Haunted by both her experiences overseas and the events that drove her to volunteer her services, she is finding it difficult to readjust to civilian life but refuses to acknowledge it. Suffering from flashbacks, drinking too much and lashing out, Jess’s behaviour drives away her boyfriend and alienates her friends. It is not until her mother passes on a diary kept by Jess’s great grandmother in the aftermath of World War 1 that Jess begins to find the perspective she so badly needs.

A young war bride, Rose is happy to welcome home though her childhood sweetheart, despite his having lost a leg. Alfie however is changed by his wartime experiences and struggles on his return not only with his disability and PTSD but also the depressed economic environment. Rose’s written fears, frustrations and fortitude allows Jess to slowly recognise the similarities between Alfie’s behaviour and her own and a twist of fate unites Jess with the same organisation, The Poppy Factory, that Rose credits with saving her great grandfather.

The Poppy Factory is written with compassion and insight. It offers a moving exploration of PTSD and I liked the way in which Trenow drew parallels between the generational experiences. I thought perhaps the historical thread was stronger than Jess’s modern day narrative but the two stories are woven together seamlessly and present a cohesive narrative.

The Poppy Factory is a real organisation established over 90 years ago to help disabled ex-military men and women find meaningful, rewarding and sustainable employment. You can support the Poppy Factory by visiting

The Poppy Factory is available to purchase at

HarperCollins I BookDepository Amazon UK I AmazonUS I AmazonAU


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deborah
    Nov 19, 2014 @ 00:10:01

    It’s always interesting when there are two threads. I’ve read a few where one was stronger than the other (including the very-famous The Blind Assassin) but guess that’s to be expected!



  2. Mystica
    Nov 19, 2014 @ 02:01:12

    I read this a while ago and found it to be such a warm, emotional read



  3. thebookdate
    Nov 19, 2014 @ 05:23:39

    I think this is one that I would enjoy, if enjoy is the word. How terrible for people to have to cope with what war has dished out.



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