Hello, Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be apart of the fabulous blog tour for; Poppy Flowers at the Front by Jon Wilkins. I can’t wait to share this beautiful book and my review with you all, firstly I want to say thank you to Emma at damppebbles for the invite to this tour. Now, let’s have a look at this book…
About the Book
Poppy Flowers at the Front by Jon Wilkins
Genre: WW1, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Brigand London
Release Date: 21st February 2020
1917: with her father in the British secret service and her brother Alfie in the trenches, under-age Poppy Loveday volunteers against her parents’ wishes to drive ambulances in France. We follow her adventures, racing to save wounded men driven to the Casualty Clearing Station, and back to the Base Hospital.
“Jon Wilkins gets to the very heart of the mud and the blood of the battlefields and then with the same ease the gaiety of the ballroom in a thriller that will keep you entertained for hours.” Stuart Hill, author of The Icemark Trilogy.
During one battle she finds Élodie Proux, a French nurse, at a roadside clutching a dead soldier. Poppy rescues her. Élodie becomes her dearest girl as they fall in love.
Poppy and Élodie encounter frightening adversaries at the Western Front as well as away from it during the closing weeks of World War One.
I have read quite a few novels set during WW1, I have a real passion for this era so when I first set eyes on Poppy Flowers at the Front I knew I had to read it and it didn’t disappoint.
This is so different to any which I have read before, not only is this purely focused on the women at the front, those incredible young women who left their lives behind to drive ambulances right at the front. But this is also a turn in the stereotypical WW1 fiction, instead of the usual nurse falls in love with a soldier this is nurse falls in love with a nurse and it is written with such sensitivity and elegance.
Poppy having lied about her age so she could join the nursing core, she is sent to the front in France to work as an ambulance driver. She is a spirited young woman who saw both her father and her brother doing their duty, her father being in the British Secret Service and her brother joining millions of other men in the trenches, she wants to do her bit too. I have huge admiration for Poppy, she goes against her family, she lies about her age (she is still technically a child of seventeen) all because she wants to help.
Poppy throws herself into her job, the author really depicts her gruelling routine with vivid clarity, her exhaustion at the long hour, her nightmares at the constant screaming of men, the day to day grind, each scene is rich in detail and transports the reader to the front as we follow Poppy as she goes out day after day, wading through the mud to help all the wounded men.
In 1917, after a horrific battle Poppy finds a deeply shocked Elodie Proux knee-deep in the mud holding onto for dear life the body of a dead soldier after their medical station has been demolished. With gentle care and kindness, Poppy helps her fellow nurse; Elodie, back onto her feet in doing so Poppy soon falls in love with the beautiful red-haired Elodie.
Poppy is a wonderful character, she is passionate, honourable, caring, kind and intelligent, I love the relationship between her and Elodie, theirs is a sweet and realist love story between two people who share so much and who bring sunshine into each other lives during a horrific time.
Poppy Flowers at the Front is written in the first person, we see the journey Poppy goes on through her eyes and that of diary entries and letters to and from the family which I really enjoyed, I loved getting to know other characters and it brought a different light on what is a very original and beautifully crafted story, which kept me engaged.
I felt it was a little on the slow side at times, the pacing could have been a little faster in certain parts, but that didn’t take anything away from the overall story.
Wilkins never once tried to hide the brutality of the war and how draining life was for those putting their very lives on the line, it’s a captivating, emotionally raw and powerful story of love and courage.
This is perfect for those who love a fresh perceptive on WW1 and the horrors which that war brought to peoples lives and perfect for those who love a more slow-paced and detailed retailing of what will be a classic love story.
About the Author
Jonathan loves to write. He is a retired teacher, lapsed Waterstones’ bookseller and former Basketball Coach. He taught PE and English for 20 years and coached women’s basketball for over 30 years.
He regularly teaches creative writing workshops in and around Leicester.