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A Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War Paperback – April 29, 2015
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It's difficult to review the thirteen stories in-depth on here but I do have them elsewhere. However, I can say that this is a wonderful book and all authors donated both their time and stories, all proceeds are being given to the Royal British Legion, home of the Poppy Appeal.
A Pride of Poppies is a quality anthology through-and-through. There isn’t one story I didn’t enjoy. The editing is superb and the writing exceedingly good to sublime. I had previously only read Barry Brennessel and Charlie Cochrane, so the other authors were unknown to me. I could not believe the depth and breadth of storytelling in each and every individual story, what a joy to want to fly through the Kindle pages. A couple of stories have more length, the rest are quite short, but the word count meant absolutely nothing, other than a few of these would make even better novellas/books. Even if you aren’t interested in all of the stories, the money spent on this anthology will be well worth it, in more ways than one.
Among the hundreds of thousands who fought, died, loved, lost and suffered were people of the LGBTQI community who experienced the additional stress of being unable to publicly acknowledge their experiences – both the horrific and the joyful.
A Pride of Poppies is a superb collection of stories that give voices to those who were silenced by the mainstream at the time. The stories are told across a rich array of experiences, including an intersex man facing his choices on enlistment, a ‘lesbian Lothario’ providing company to the women of her mail route, men in a German internment camp in England finding comfort in the midst of trauma, a bereaved mother visiting the sickbed of a wounded man who was her son’s particular friend, and two young men in French Indochina finding strength in each other as they struggle in their occupied homeland.
There are stories in the trenches, at sea, on the English homefront and in far-off places where the war’s impact is unexpected. But don’t get the idea that each one is a story of sorrow and misery. Far from it. There is so much love and hope in these tales, too. Happy endings as well as heartbreaking partings. The broader experience of the whole of humanity is reflected in these small and personal love stories.
Every story is a gem, though a few shone a little more brightly for me. I am an enormous admirer of Wendy C Fries Sherlock Holmes stories, and her beautiful contribution, I Remember, is lyrical and had me happy-weepy, sorrowful and glad for Christopher and James who can only write in a kind of code to each other. Eleanor Musgrove’s Inside, set in an civilian internment camp, shows life for those deemed ‘enemy aliens’ in a sympathetic light. At the Gate by Jay Lewis Taylor is another that had me tearful for the man who could not be seen to mourn too much for the man he loved. Julie Bozza (author of the excellent The Fine Point of His Soul) gives us the fresh and lovely Lena and the Swan, or The Lesbian Lothario.
A Pride of Poppies opens a window many lives affected by The Great War, not just in Europe, not just on the battlefield, but for so many lives changed and challenged in so many different ways.
The authors and publishing house all donated their efforts to this book, and a minimum of 60% of the proceeds are being donated to the Royal British Legion, which runs the UK’s Poppy Appeal. But don’t buy this wonderful anthology for that reason. Buy it because it’s a damned fine read which will break your heart, fill it with hope and remind you that love will find a way to grow, even under the harshest conditions.
For original review, see the Prism Book Alliance® blog online.
Anthologies are not normally my „thing“; I mostly picked this one up because some of my absolutely favorite authors contributed to it. And also because I find the WWI era a fascinating time.
First of all, this isn’t m/m. Well, part of it is, but these stories really cover the whole range of GLBTQI, with protagonists who are male, female or other. And secondly, these stories aren’t romances. Again, well, part of them are, but not all. Some are just snapshots in time, some are whole biographies, some anything in between. Some even merely touch upon the main character’s sexuality, focusing on some other aspect in the life of a person who happens to be GLBTQI.
This book as a whole is hard to rate for me, because as it’s often the case with anthologies, I loved some of the stories, others not so much. However, I didn’t hate any of those stories and found something to appreciate in every single one of them, even those I personally didn’t much care for, so it’s likely more a matter of personal taste. My favorites were “Lena and the Swan” by Julie Bozza which was just delicious, like a picaresque novel, only with a female protagonist, and “Per Ardua at Astra” by Lou Faulkner because it reminded me so much of my grandpa.
This anthology is, in my eyes, a must for readers interested in the WWI – era as well as for fans of the contributing authors. (who might even discover new favorites, like I did.)
It’s high-quality writing throughout, not to be consumed as a whole, but best enjoyed one story at a time.
Oh and 60% of the sales of this book will be donated to the Royal British Legion (a charity organization for veterans and serving members of the British Armed Forces)
Most recent customer reviews
An excellent anthology of World War 1 stories all...Read more