Review // Poppy Factory Vs Poppy

First off...apologies for the few weeks hiatus - I have been working at the weekends and at University during the weekdays and just haven't found time to properly blog anything for a while...that being said I have found a lot of time to read lately: mostly on trains, during my lunch breaks and when I am so wide-awake that I can't do anything else at least I have a few blog ideas to come...also: Here comes Christmas! So Christmas-related posts are on the way too. I'm not promising anything too spectacular as my work-load is only increasing but I miss blogging!

So...without further ado:

Poppy Factory Vs Poppy
As I said in my TBR, my last post, when it comes to remembrance day in November I am always compelled to read a World War One or World War Two novel - don't know why but that is the way it is. This month I was so compelled I read two - almost three! But I stopped myself to finally read 'Cinder' which I admit I am a quarter of the way through! Finally! - this month I read:
- Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow
- Poppy by Mary Hooper
The latter book is intended for children to young adult whereas the former is young adult to adult. Neither are particularly graphic in detail, although Poppy focuses on a VAD in Southampton during the war and Poppy Factory deals with a 'shell-shocked' female soldier in the modern day and a 'shell-shocked' soldier just after the Armistice.
These books hold a lot of similarities and a lot of the same faults in my opinion. Not to mention their names!
We'll start with 'Poppy' by Hooper:
- It is a fast-track read, very easy to follow and it speeds along through a lot of difference environments very quickly. Poppy, the namesake character of the story, is a young domestic servant at the beginning of the war but by the pressing of her former teacher she engages in VAD work - training to be a nurse. But as this gentle pressing is occurring she finds herself falling for her previous employers son: Freddie De Vere.
Clearly anyone who has watched Downton Abbey will know that a servant to fall in love with her master or masters son is a very bad thing. It is not only frowned upon but generally considered impossible for the time as it is ruinous for whole families! The book never goes into too much detail regarding this 'love' though and I must admit towards the end of the book it felt a little too brief a romance to even really call it a romance. But as a child I could imagine myself finding it deeply romantic!
The writing is simplistic but detailed, I can picture what the character is doing with ease and some of the characters are very lively: Jameson the toff of a VAD who gets a little too close to a German POW, and William, the brother, are very well-written.
Not my favourite World War One story but definitely a good read for children - also the first book in what seems to be a series as Mary Hooper announces at the end of the book - which is left on a slightly dull cliff-hanger, that a new book will be out soon called: Poppy in the Field. And yes, I shall be buying it.
'Poppy Factory' by Liz Trenow
This was the first of the books that I read but since it is a little more complicated to explain I thought I would write about it last.
The story is set over two times: It opens in modern day, with an English, female, soldier choosing to go to Afghanistan to be a medic (slightly 'Our Girl' storyline) for a very odd reason: Her brother's best mate, her first major crush, went and died over there and now she feels that she has to go over there to. This could have been a much stronger plot twist for me. She's trained to be a paramedic, has met the man of her dreams: Nate, and then opts to go to War and possibly die because of her first crush dying there? Not really 'believable' for me...
The story then revolves around what happens when she gets back. She moves back in with her lovely fella - who I can't clearly picture as he is supposed to be incredibly good-looking, a PE teacher, black and with dreadlocks? I just cannot picture it if I am honest? Maybe it is just my imagination but I am picturing someone like 'Nate Parker' somehow he doesn't fit the description. But moving on...Jess, the main character, has come back with obvious PTSD - she is constantly drinking, making a fool of herself, getting really bad nightmares, unable to work as she can't stand the sight of blood etc. And she knows that she has PTSD but she ignores it and carries on - things get worse. She and Nate break up - what seems about 4 time the book - and she goes back to live with her parents where she is given some diaries that her great-grandmother wrote after World War One. 
The story changes to the Armistice in London with Mary thrilled that her husband is coming home after so long. Only he comes back changed - with only one leg and shell-shock, she has to deal with everything that is thrown at them for the next three years: his drinking, their lack of money, lack of jobs, mourning her deceased brothers, having children, her sister-in-laws fling with a really bad man who causes a load of trouble as well as her husbands deterioration due to lack of job, alcohol issues and stubbornness. This character is perhaps the most relatable to, even though Jess is modern day Mary has the every-day likability factor that makes her easier to feel for.
The story itself winds down well and eventually gets to its namesake: the Poppy Factory, the original British factory where the poppies were made by injured War veterans. It is a moving end and there are some good characters but the modern plot-line really weakens the World War One story as it is just too coincidentally perfect and although I understand this as a plot-driver I find it somewhat patronising.
Overall...who won the battle of the books:
 Poppy by Mary Hooper
Whilst the ending was a little to sudden and the romance was not igniting the characters, the plotline and the general description taught me new things about the War, made for an exciting new twist with white feathers, VAD training and the female side of the War.
Whilst I did enjoy The Poppy Factory, particularly the end with the Poppy Factory I found that the characters were slightly frustrating, the plot-line stagnated a little in the WW1 era and then blustered in the modern-day. The romances were really patronising in places - which annoyed me - and it didn't seem to have a flow. But the characterisation of Mary and the use of the Poppy Factory as a whole was lovely.
All in all two books that I would recommend as WW1 books but to younger readers rather than people of my own age.
Happy Reading!

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