When World War I ended, hundreds of families were left with grief and questions. Were their loved ones truly missing as declared? Edith grapples with this when a picture of her missing husband, Francis, is mailed to her out of the blue. Edith swears he looks older than when she last saw him; she’s certain he must be alive.
Francis’ brother Harry has been hired by families to photograph graves of fallen soldiers. He dislikes the grim nature of the task, but deeply believes in the closure it provides. Harry’s own war flashbacks cause him to question much of his past. Even though Harry fought next to Francis and saw him get injured, he can’t help but wonder if his memories are true. As he searches for evidence of his brother, Harry’s grief is heightened by his heartache and forbidden love for Edith.
The Poppy Wife alternates between Harry and Edith’s voices. It also switches between 1917 and 1921, giving readers a full glimpse into life during and after the war. This novel gives readers a vivid snapshot into a drastically different time period. It masterfully combines historical fiction with a tale of redemption, loss and a search for answers.
Margaret Gardner is the senior library manager at R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury. Margaret lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and dog.