readbooks_fightpatriarchy's review against another edition

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I got this book on the release date after attending a panel with six of the authors. It's always nice when the authors you like turn out to be super nice in person as well! I was a previous fan of Lauren Willig and Jennifer Robson, and am excited to now read more by the other authors.

This book centers around the Armistice at the end of the First World War. I liked how each author covered such different experiences and in different ways- from women who were inhabitants of war zones to those who were on the home front, from the Easter Rising to the dance clubs of Paris, and two stories were even written from the male perspective. Topics covered included mask making for injured soldiers, the experiences of a person who was a former citizen of a country her new country was at war with, the experiences of pilots who were not expected to survive very long, and pretty much every topic you did or didn't know about the First World War.

I liked the fact that Evangeline Holland's story was unlike any other that I've read about WWI. I enjoyed Jessica Brockmole's use of letters between characters to progress the story. Having read Jennifer Robson's other books, I enjoyed learning more about a familiar character's story. Lauren Willig's story went back and forth between 1980 and the end of the war, and it provided a very interesting angle- how we remember things versus how they really were. Marci Jefferson's story kept me on my toes as I couldn't guess what would happen next! Heather Webb's story was really moving for such a short piece. Kate Kerrigan's story was not only compelling, but it made me want to learn more and do some further research. Beatriz Williams' story is an intro to her upcoming novel, which I will be sure to check out. Hazel Gaynor's story I thought was wonderful at connecting yet contrasting the people at home to those on the battlefield.

Sorry if I seem a little vague, but I didn't want to reveal any spoilers. I really liked this book, and look forward to reading more by the authors I was unfamiliar with.

karmichelle518's review against another edition

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Not what I expected 

daybreak1012's review against another edition

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When I think of WWI, for some reason, it is the scenes from Downton Abbey that surface foremost in my mind. I feel like WWII gets more creative attention, at least as I have personally encountered, and so this was a series of quick deep dives into the Great War. Coming into this book, I was already familiar five of the nine authors, some of them more than others. Given the format of this book, I'm going to deviate from my typical review formula and talk about the stories individually.

The Daughter of Belgium
Marci Jefferson was a new author for me. This was a challenging way for me to kick off this collection, because her storytelling felt abrupt to me. I know the realities of war were cold and cruel, but this story jumped in with a harshness that made me feel slapped. Additionally, there is an art to the short story, given that you have a limited number of pages to get a complete story told in a way that feels satisfying. This one felt rushed to me, because things happened over the course of three days that were beyond my threshold for suspending disbelief. 
Story rating: 1 star.

The Record Set Straight
I have read Lauren Willig several times now, so her writing immediately felt comfortable, familiar. Her voice is one that particularly appeals to me. I found it very reminiscent of the wistful, melancholy tone of one of her collaborative works, The Forgotten Room. In 38 pages, Lauren told a story that spanned decades, giving all the necessary details to get the reader invested. And then pay dirt. She delivered a story that was complete, but I would have loved to get it fully fleshed out, just to see what she would have done with it. 
Story rating: 4 stars.

All for the Love of You
I have read one other book by Jennifer Robson, and this followed suit: I liked it but didn't love it. This story was written well in advance of the novel I read. While I took issue with run-on sentences in The Gown, in this short story, the writing just felt unpolished. It was a sweet story, though, and one with a pacing that felt believable. I also really liked the two focal characters.
Story rating: 3 stars.

After You've Gone
I had no previous experience with Evangeline Holland and I won't have any additional experience with her works afterward. I felt like I couldn't connect with the narrator. I also felt as if I were dropped into the middle of an ongoing story and then yanked out again without warning. The twist felt icky to me. The only redeeming value in the entire thing was the cat.
Story rating: 1 star.

Something Worth Landing For
After the darker, more sobering subjects, the soul-crushing sadness of war and losses of all sorts, I felt inappropriate laughing at this one as much as I did, but the author's writing style had a cheekiness that delighted me. I would have loved to spend a full book's worth of time with Victoire and Wes, allowing their whole story to spin out before me. Upon its conclusion, I promptly went in search of other works by Jessica Brockmole. Unfortunately, her library isn't extensive and none of the novels on her list did anything to intrigue me. Bummer. Be that as it may, this one remains one of my favorites in the collection.
Story rating: 4 stars.

Hour of the Bells
I am fully aware that people often lost multiple loved ones in this war -- husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, sweethearts -- and the emotions of loss in that magnitude run deep. However, while other authors managed to convey those emotions in ways that were easy for me to find myself immersed, this one felt jagged and forced. Amplified in a way that wasn't just uncomfortable but actually pushed me away from the storytelling. It didn't make my heart ache but rather felt contrived and melodramatic. What's more, I saw the plot twist coming from approximately go. I have read a book that Heather Webb collaborated to write which I loved, but nothing by her own hand alone, so I don't know if this was an anomaly for her or if the other author of the collaboration just managed to carry her that well. Regardless, I was relieved to see this one come to an end.
Story rating: 1 star.

An American Airman in Paris
Ah, Beatriz Williams. Not only am I familiar with her, she is unequivocally one of my favorite authors. In fact, she is the reason I found myself reading this book at all, hoping for a glimpse into the amazing, complex universe she has imagined. In this, she did not disappoint, but I caution that to the reader who is wisely moving through her works in publication order, it won't initially have much relevance. As someone who discovered this lesson a little too late, I know how this story fits into the overarching narrative of her "I don't write a series but you'll be spoiling for yourself if you read out of order" collection of books. I am conflicted because in Beatriz fashion, she can be a bit vulgar, but holy moly can she tell you a story. And unlike the rest of these short stories, hers fits into another book, thus you are almost getting a missing chapter from said other book, so there is more meat to this one if you seek it out. Knowing what I already know, I was tickled to read this little nugget and gain insight.
Story rating: 4 stars.

The Photograph
I did not care for this one at all. My first exposure to Kate Kerrigan, the writing felt stilted to me. It was as if someone was yammering a story at me, rather than unwinding it before my eyes. While I appreciated the more unique viewpoint of the Irish War of Independence, which overlapped with WWI, I was unable to engage with it at all. And if the author had used quotation marks to the effect of air quotes any more, I may have actually screamed. Suffice to say, I will not be seeking out more of her work to read.
Story rating: 1 star.

Last but not least was Hazel Gaynor's contribution to the collection. I've read and enjoyed her books before, and this was no different. Her use of mirroring, which while a tad obvious, still was executed in a way that felt clever to me. I cared about the people she introduced me to, albeit briefly. She brought to life a wide array of emotions that would have been expected at the Armistice, and they felt real to me. Of all the stories, I think this one affected me the most. There was a tension that reverberated through each page, and I found myself holding my own breath until the final words.
Story rating: 4 stars.

As you can plainly see, with one exception, I either loved or hated the stories told here, for a variety of reasons. I ultimately decided to rate the book overall as an average of the individual star ratings, and when I saw the results of the calculation, it felt right. I went in, hoping I might find a new author or two to explore, but closed the book basically affirming the authors I already liked and not at all compelled to add any new ones to my TBR. (That may actually be for the best, given the volume of said TBR.) I am far and away not sorry to have received the benefit of the Beatriz "missing piece", even if it meant enduring some painful stories along the way, for which I was grateful they were at least limited in length. As I said at the outset, short-story-telling is an artform and one that is not forgiving, so I won't hold any struggles with the format against any of these authors, however, things like tone and writing style definitely hold weight in my final decision as to whether I need more of these authors in my life. 

eclectictales's review against another edition

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I was approved an ARC of this book by the publishers via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This review in its entirety was originally posted at

Fall of Poppies is a pretty solid anthology featuring interesting stories that focus on different aspects of experiences and events of the first World War: characters who witnessed atrocities firsthand and their aftermath, soldiers enduring lifelong scars, characters adrift as the world enters the glamour and optimism of the Roaring Twenties. Couples come together, couples are driven apart, children are lost, home is nowhere to be found. All the stories featured here kept my attention for various reasons: the writing, the storytelling, the characters, the themes of memory, the war, rebuilding lives.

While this collection was pretty solid, I do have my favourite stories. “The Record Set Straight” by Lauren Willig was a favourite, probably because it was a bit sadder than the others I read, there’s a sense of melancholy, resignation, and acceptance of things that had happened in the past and lost opportunities that came as a result of decisions made. Jennifer Robson’s “All for the Love of You” on the flipside was lovely and hopeful. Jennifer Brockmole’s “Something Worth Landing For” was something different, a marriage borne out of necessity than from love (at least initially), not to mention a good B-plot involving John’s strained relationship with his mother. Plus, I love a good story involving epistolaries :)

Overall Fall of Poppies was a great collection of stories from some fantastic writers who brought the period and the various struggles that went with it to life. Readers of historical fiction and of short stories will want to check this out.

rachelm31f6b's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


cdb393's review against another edition

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3 1/2 stars

cstockey's review against another edition

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I am not going to write a full review because this is a collection of short stories and I wrote an update with a star rating on each of the stories.

I really do feel like I was immersed into that time by reading all those stories back to back. Probably twice a year (Remembrance Day and Valentine's Day) I will go back and read a story or two from this book just to bring me back to that time and those feelings.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction revolving around the First World War.

Also this book is definitely only 354 pages (357 including about the authors) and this is not the ebook edition so just know that.

hkar0610's review against another edition

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A beautiful anthology. Sad, but incredibly well written.

beckylej's review against another edition

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As you all may know we are in the midst of the 100 year anniversary of WWI, which began in the summer of 1914 and stretched through to November 11, 1918 - Armistice Day. As such, there's been a bevy of new fiction, non fiction, movies, and tv shows based around that era to satisfy even the buffest of WWI history buffs. I can't claim to be a HUGE history buff (I do have to look up dates and such), but I do absolutely love stories of love, heroism, and the people of this era, which makes this particular anthology quite perfect reading.

The book features nine tales by (as the synopsis promises) top voices in historical fiction, some of whom have been featured here on the blog before:

"The Daughter of Belgium" by Marci Jefferson (The Girl on the Golden Coin) kicks off the collection, introducing readers to a brave and formidable woman whose life in Belgium has been greatly affected by the war. A tragedy has forced her to hide away in a former clinic where one last patient tests her every resolve.

"The Record Set Straight" by Lauren Willig (the Pink Carnation series, That Summer, and The Other Daughter) takes readers to Kenya in 1980 where an elderly woman is faced with a reunion she's long avoided and a truth that's been buried for over sixty years.

"All for the Love of You" by Jennifer Robson (Somewhere in France, After the War is Over, and Moonlight Over Paris) is set seven years after the war when a woman makes a discovery that brings her back to Armistice Day and a lost love.

In "After You've Gone" by Evangeline Holland (author of, amongst others, the Bledington Park series) a widow with nothing left to lose finds out this isn't the case at all.

"Something Worth Landing For" by Jessica Brockmole (Letters From Skye) is a sweet read about a pilot who comes to a stranger's rescue just one day before heading to the front.

"Hour of the Bells" by Heather Webb (Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover) finds a mother stricken by loss considering a most desperate act of revenge.

"An American Airman in Paris" by Beatriz Williams (A Certain Age, Along the Infinite Sea, Tiny Little Things...) tells the story of a pilot who carries a picture that's very near and dear to him. But while everyone believes it's a picture of his sweetheart, only he knows the truth.

"The Photograph" by Kate Kerrigan (the Ellis Island trilogy, Recipes For a Perfect Marriage, and The Miracle of Grace) is set around the Irish uprising and war for independence and a picture of a soldier in enemy uniform. Who the man was and why his picture was held onto for so many years makes a descendant ponder exactly what that means for her own family history.

And finally, in "Hush" by Hazel Gaynor (The Girl Who Came Home, A Memory of Violets, and The Girl From the Savoy) two boys fight for the lives in the same last moments of the war.

As I said above, this is quite the perfect anthology for fans of WWI fiction as well as fans of the contributing authors. But do be prepared, these are some emotional stories! You may need tissues nearby (Something Worth Landing For was the one that got me!).

mcampbel's review against another edition

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Good short stories - some stronger than others (between 3-4 stars). I enjoyed the stories by Marci Jefferson, Jessica Brockmole, and Lauren Willig.