Review: The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott


Title: The Poppy Wife

Author: Caroline Scott

Published: November 1st 2019, Simon & Schuster

Status: Read October 2019, Simon & Schuster AU


My Thoughts:

A story of love, loss, guilt, and hope, The Poppy Wife is a moving and poignant debut from Caroline Scott.

Three years after the end of the Great War, Edie receives a photograph of her husband in the mail. There is no note with the photo, in which Edie thinks Francis looks much older than when she saw him last just months before he was declared missing in action, and only a blurred French postmark provides any clues as to its origin. Unable to ignore the possibility her husband somehow survived the war, Edie travels to France in search of answers.

Harry has never doubted his older brother died that day in the mud of Ypres, he saw the bullets rip through his body on the battlefield. So, as Harry travels the French countryside photographing graves for mourning relatives in England, he searches for his brother’s resting place. Yet as long as Francis remains listed as MIA, neither officially dead or alive, perhaps he, and Edie, have cause to hope.

The Poppy Wife is a stunning story moving between two timelines. The first during the final years of WWI primarily explores Harry’s experience of war, fighting alongside his brothers along the Front. The second takes place in 1921, where the narrative shifts between the perspectives of Edie and Harry as they travel independently, and together, searching for any sign of Francis.

Scott highlights a devastating aspect of the WWI’s aftermath in The Poppy Wife. During the war hundreds of thousands of fallen soldiers were buried without proper records, and after its end, the final resting place of almost as many remained unidentified. This left some families in limbo, never absolutely certain about the fate of their loved one. For many years after the war, the loved ones of the ‘lost’ journeyed to countries such as France and Belgium in the hopes of either finding their father or son, brother or husband alive, or proof of their death.

It is an emotionally harrowing journey for both Edie and Harry, and Scott skilfully communicates their struggle with their warring feelings of hope, guilt, and despair. Harry also finds himself constantly confronted by memories of the trauma he experienced on the battlefield, and the loss of both his brothers, and friends.

Beautifully written, with description that evokes the horror of war, the battle scarred lands of France, and the fraught emotions of the characters, The Poppy Wife is a stirring and thoughtful story.


Available from Simon & Schuster Au

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. the bookworm
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 01:21:08

    Glad you enjoyed The Poppy Wife, it sounds like an emotional and well written story. I enjoy dual timelines when done right. Fantastic review.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Oct 27, 2019 @ 02:44:41

    This book sounds so good! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


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  4. Helen Murdoch
    Oct 28, 2019 @ 06:33:23

    WWI is one of my favorite eras in history to read about; so many social changes in addition to the horrors of “modern” war. This novel sounds right up my alley.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Jorie
    Feb 17, 2020 @ 16:56:23

    Hallo, Hallo Shelleyrae,

    I’ve had this one earmarked on my OverDrive for awhile now – it is taking a bit to get round to me in the queue line but that is okay! I keep striving towards having a better balance of reading and listening to audiobooks and this is one way that is helping me when I check to see which new audioreads are being added to the library! OverDrive just works for me due to its interface and the availabilty of the stories themselves.

    If there is a Historical Fiction story out there – odds are in good favour I’m going to find them! If you like #HistFic – you should see if you can host for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours – the badge is in my sidebar with the direct link! Ms Bruno is a wonderful hostess and she truly gets a wide variety of stories to feature, read and showcase on your blog! Plus, seeing that your on NetGalley ebooks are not a problem as some tours are digital only

    Time slips and time shifts (when they aren’t time travelling) are two of my favourite time bents in fiction today. I love the duality of the perspectives but also as you said – how intuitively the writers are alighting us into two distinct time periods of importance as they thread their character’s journey and the arc of the novel.

    I am going to need loads of tea and tissues I see! This one is going to bleed my heart and crush my soul; but emotions aside, it feels like the story resonated with you on a deep level and became one of your favourite reads!



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