‘The Poppy Factory’ by Liz Trenow

Liz Trenow’s ‘The Poppy Factory’ was such a poignant read in the month of November.  Not only was it fitting to read alongside Remembrance Sunday, but it also was a great insight into fighting on the front line, especially at such a fragile time across the world.

I’ve read a few novels centered around World War 1 before, but have never read anything about war in my own lifetime, and after I had finished the novel, I wondered why there weren’t more novels that dealt with this time available – after all, it was such a fantastic insight into what soldiers and medics on the front line in places like Afghanistan have had to go through in recent years.

And there of course lies the answer – not enough time has passed for the pain to ease and the memories to fade, not enough time has passed to make writing about such a sensitive subject easier.  Some of the best post-WW1 novels and memoirs were published years after the end of this war, and it is only now that we have a much better insight into the horrors of this despicable conflict.

What I particularly liked about Liz Trenow’s novel was the female perspectives it was told from.  Not only do we get Rose’s narration, written through diary entries, about her husband’s Alfie’s difficulties in coping with life after the war, but we also get Jess’ perspective – a medic on the front line in Afghanistan, she has just returned from a tour and is also struggling to cope with ‘normal’ life.

Knowing little about the experiences of service personnel on the front line in war-torn countries, other than the impersonal stories shown on the news, the novel provided a better comprehension of the effects of war, with PTSD still very prevalent. Even with all the advances in training programmes and technology, we cannot get away from the psychological (and physical) ramifications that war can bring.

And that’s where the work of The Poppy Factory is still so important today.  The novel provides an enlightening history of this important charity, making us all no-doubt consider what we do for those who have returned from war to resume an ‘old’ life or start afresh.  There are a number of ways that you can help this extremely worthy cause, and if reading the novel helps readers on their way to doing just that, then you need to read it!  And we need to salute Liz Trenow!

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