Saga Hillbom delivers a stunning WWI depiction in her novel A Generation of Poppies. The setting is realistic and makes you feel as though you were there in the trenches. The research is remarkable in this book. Hillbom has an amazing way with words.
- Title: A Generation of Poppies
- Author: Saga Hillbom
- Publisher: Self-Published on September 1, 2021
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Pages: 288
- Formats Available: Paperback & Digital
- Rating: 5/5
Trigger Warnings: Graphic War Scenes, Violence
Many thanks to Saga Hillbom for providing me with a digital copy of A Generation of Poppies with a request for an honest review.
About A Generation of Poppies
The First World War casts its shadow over seventeen-year-old Rosalie Wilkes’ idyllic life. Unwilling to sit idle, Rosalie lies about her age and signs up as a voluntary Red Cross nurse. Stationed at a hospital in Rouen, France, she has to face the consequences of modern warfare. Meanwhile, her fiancé and her brother are risking their lives on the ground and in the air.
Charles D’Aboville is forced to abandon his studies in Paris and become a junior officer. As such, he must lead men into battle and watch death reap more than its due. When Charles is wounded in an explosion, he is sent to Rouen to recover. There, a secret relationship begins to form. The war threatens to tear Charles’ and Rosalie’s lives to shreds. But might it instead make freedom possible?
A Generation of Poppies is the story of two young people navigating through horror, longing, and doubt. It is also a story of persistent hope.Blurb Provided by Saga Hillbom
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Rosalie Wilkes lives a life of the privileged, with everything that entails. Her mother is gone, and her father dotes on her. But, Rosalie feels restless in her own skin. When all her male friends head off to the war, Rosalie feels even more fretful in her need to get out and do something important. Rosalie’s head tells her to do what society expects of her, but her heart isn’t in it when she agrees to marry Harry Bride. So, when she meets Charles, her confused feelings hit her hard. Rosalie must endure this war, but what will come of her? Will she follow her head or her heart?
I enjoyed Roslie’s character, even though she is a bit spoiled. I admire her tenacity and the will to do good in the world. But, I do wish that she made better decisions. She does the expected and makes excuses about the consequences. Harry is a good kid, but he never had my affection. There is something in his character that just didn’t sit well with me. Harry was likable, but that is about it. Charles is a character that I abhorred. I could not stand him from his first introduction because he is a jerk of the highest sense. He carries this unearned elitist attitude that makes him ugly. As such, the love Rosalie feels for Charles doesn’t make sense to me, but to each their own.
I enjoyed the relationship, even without understanding it, because the words penned by Saga were almost majestic. The prose is beautiful and puts you at ease. I wanted to feel angry a lot of the time, but I couldn’t bring myself to it. I fell completely into the story without a backward glance. Some situations upset me, especially the way Rosalie’s brother treated their sister, Isabel. I understand the attitude, but the disappointment was real because Fred was so liberal in thought about most things.
The setting descriptions are incredible. The war scenes were so realistic that I felt as though I were looking at an old picture album and listening to a friend tell the story. The chaos surrounding the battles was intense, but Hillbom made it okay. What could have spiraled out of control in the storytelling was crisp and distinct.
I award A Generation of Poppies a full 5 out of 5 stars. The story Saga tells allowed me to learn more about the time period and the people’s attitudes about the war came to life. I recommend this novel not so much for the romance but for the intelligent storyline. If you love history, especially the history of WWI, this book is for you.
About the Author – Saga Hillbom
Saga Hillbom is the author of four historical novels. Her other works include Today Dauphine Tomorrow Nothing (2019), City of Bronze, City of Silver (2020), and Princess of Thorns (2021).