Book Tour Review: Fall of Poppies anthology

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Title: Fall of Poppies
Authors: Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Marci Jefferson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: March 1 2016
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3.75/5

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.

World War I comes to life under various hands in the well-rounded and evocatively-named anthology Fall of Poppies. As is to be expected from a group of such disparate voices, styles, and authorial techniques, there were bound to be some stories that worked better for me as a reader (aka Lauren Willig's The Record Set Right and Something Worth Landing For by Jessica Brockmole) than others did, but on the whole, this was an excellent collection of vignettes into different lives affected by the war. There is a wide variety to the characters and plotlines being introduced and explored; WWI ended on Armistice Day, but the effects of the devastating conflict would linger, and in turn greatly influence the lives of characters in Fall of Poppies.

On the whole, I thought that this is a very balanced group of authors to combine for a themed collection. Their authorial styles are each unique, but the stories in Fall of Poppies are compatible and mesh together well.  Lauren Willig unexpectedly stole the show two stories in with her Mortonesque tale (my lone 5-star read in the anthology), but Brockmole and Kate Kerrigen were close second-favorites for me. I had a hard time getting into a couple of the later additions; Hazel Gaynor's Hush and An American Airman in Paris by Beatriz Williams were the hardest to invest in. Despite the slight issues, I found each new short story to be nuanced and pretty well rendered for using such a short amount of time to frame a story and create operational characters within it.
I greatly enjoyed this anthology for the way it builds around its central theme; the stories feature new places and people, but the collective emotion is there. These stories can also be purchased all together as Fall of Poppies, which I think works best for effect and emotional investment, or they each can be bought individually by author. Some of the names were new to me and some were known, but all were distinct and interesting. I couldn't quite connect with a few of the later stories or characters but still ended Fall of Poppies feeling very emotionally attached to my favorite parts.

Dominated by strong female voices (notably, there is one sole male POV and it was my lowest rated inclusion), Fall of Poppies' nine stories are tied together by love and by war. The people in those stories are motivated by those same ideas but explore its expression and its meaning uniquely and often harshly. A strong, well-selected anthology builds as it continues, and Fall of Poppies did just that with authors who were deft, good with voice, and often defied stereotypes.  A little more diversity shown on part of the narrators and I would be even more enthusiastic, but I would recommend this to other historical fiction fans.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 1
Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, March 3
Review at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, March 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, March 7
Review at Bookish
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, March 8
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, March 11
Review at Creating Herstory

About the Authors

Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, an epistolary love story spanning an ocean and two wars. Named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2013, Letters From Skye has been published in seventeen countries.

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and A Memory of Violets. She writes regularly for the national press, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.

Evangeline Holland is the founder and editor of Edwardian Promenade, the number one blog for lovers of World War I, the Gilded Age, and Belle Époque France with nearly forty thousand unique viewers a month. In addition, she blogs at Modern Belles of History. Her fiction includes An Ideal Duchess and its sequel, crafted in the tradition of Edith Warton.

Marci Jefferson is the author of Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart, which Publisher’s Weekly called “intoxicating.” Her second novel, The Enchantress of Paris, will release in Spring 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books.

Kate Kerrigan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Ellis Island trilogy. In addition she has written for the Irish Tatler, a Dublin-based newspaper, as well as The Irish Mail and a RTE radio show, Sunday Miscellany.

Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and international bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. She holds a doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. Jennifer lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

Heather Webb is an author, freelance editor, and blogger at award-winning writing sites and Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and she may also be found teaching craftbased courses at a local college.

Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and A Hundred Summers. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons. She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry. William Morrow will publish her forthcoming hardcover, A Certain Age, in the summer of 2016.

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

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