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The Poppy Wife: A Novel of the Great War

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In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I. 1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I. 1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis is still missing. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie knows he is alive. Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis went missing in Ypres. And like Edie, he’s hopeful Francis is living somewhere in France, lost and confused. Hired by grieving families in need of closure, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph soldiers’ graves. As he travels through France gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence his own brother is still alive. When Edie receives a mysterious photograph that she believes was taken by Francis, she is more certain than ever he isn’t dead. Edie embarks on her own journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone, or could he still be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he come home? As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are soon faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover. An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history—those years after the war that were filled with the unknown—The Poppy Wife tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins in battle-scarred France; and the even greater number of men and women hoping to find them again.


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In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I. 1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I. 1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis is still missing. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie knows he is alive. Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis went missing in Ypres. And like Edie, he’s hopeful Francis is living somewhere in France, lost and confused. Hired by grieving families in need of closure, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph soldiers’ graves. As he travels through France gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence his own brother is still alive. When Edie receives a mysterious photograph that she believes was taken by Francis, she is more certain than ever he isn’t dead. Edie embarks on her own journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone, or could he still be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he come home? As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are soon faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover. An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history—those years after the war that were filled with the unknown—The Poppy Wife tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins in battle-scarred France; and the even greater number of men and women hoping to find them again.

30 review for The Poppy Wife: A Novel of the Great War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    In 1921. The Great War may have ended, but so many desperate families are still trying to find out what happened to their missing husbands, sons and brothers? Edie’s beloved husband Francis is still listed as missing, Francis is presumed to have been killed in action in France and Edie still believes that he could possibly still be alive? Harry, Francis’s brother, was with him the day Francis went missing during the battle for Ypres, like Edie, he’s hopeful Francis is still alive and living In 1921. The Great War may have ended, but so many desperate families are still trying to find out what happened to their missing husbands, sons and brothers? Edie’s beloved husband Francis is still listed as missing, Francis is presumed to have been killed in action in France and Edie still believes that he could possibly still be alive? Harry, Francis’s brother, was with him the day Francis went missing during the battle for Ypres, like Edie, he’s hopeful Francis is still alive and living somewhere in France? Harry returns to France and he's trying to help grieving families find some closure. Harry takes photograph's of soldiers graves and sends the pictures back to their families in England. As he travels through war damaged France gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for any evidence that his own brother is still alive. For Harry going back to France is very hard, he still suffers terribly from his own experiences during the war, he has horrible nightmares and flashbacks! He also suffers from survivors guilt and why was he one of the lucky ones to survive the war? His younger brother Will died and older brother Francis has left behind a wife who's still not sure if she's a widow? When Edie receives a mysterious photograph, she believes it might have been taken recently by Francis, and she's now certain that he's still alive? Edie embarks on her own journey in the hope of finding some trace of her missing husband. Is he truly gone, buried in a unmarked grave in France or could he be living in France? But why hasn't he come home, has he lost his memory or has he been badly wounded and thinks she wouldn't love him anymore due to his injuries? Harry and Edie’s paths cross, together they try to solve the mystery of what happened to Francis and could he hiding somewhere in France? Thousands of men are listed as missing in action and France was a total mess after the WW I finished. Towns are destroyed, buildings are gone, the landscape looks different and fields are full of old army trenches. The countryside is littered with discarded and broken weapons, empty shell casings, rusty barbed wire, bits of uniforms and bones. While reading: The Poppy Wife, you can almost see the sides of the road littered with soldiers discarded belongings as they march towards the front and feel how nervous they are while waiting in the trenches for the whistle to blow and it's their turn to go over the top! The Poppy Wife, is a intriguing, beautifully written and a very emotional book to read. Opinions expressed in this review are my own, I gave The Poppy Wife five big stars and it's one of the best historical fiction WW I books I have read. I have shared my review on Goodreads, NetGalley, Edelweiss, Barnes & Noble, Australian Amazon, Twitter and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  2. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    Caroline Scott’s debut is beautifully written, powerful, and intense. The book takes place primarily in France 1921 with flashbacks to 1917. A story about the aftermath of war, the sorrow and the devastation. The guilt and heartbreak felt by those left behind. This is a piece of history I have not read much about it was sobering to acknowledge the impact of war on both the land and human spirit. It was lovely and heart wrenching to see the hope inspired by the rebuilding of France, all I could Caroline Scott’s debut is beautifully written, powerful, and intense. The book takes place primarily in France 1921 with flashbacks to 1917. A story about the aftermath of war, the sorrow and the devastation. The guilt and heartbreak felt by those left behind. This is a piece of history I have not read much about it was sobering to acknowledge the impact of war on both the land and human spirit. It was lovely and heart wrenching to see the hope inspired by the rebuilding of France, all I could think was in a couple decades they would be in the midst of war again. This story was told from the alternating perspectives of Harry and Edie. Harry is the only one of three brothers to survive the war. He is now back in France working as a photographer taking pictures of soldier’s graves for their families. Edie was married to one of Harry’s brothers Francis. After receiving a mysterious photo she is convinced that Francis is alive and heads to France to find him. Harry and Eadie’s haves cross in France it is bittersweet. There is so much confusion, guilt, and history between the two of them, will discovering the truth about Francis bring them healing and closure? I was completely drawn into this riveting story. I had to know the fate of Francis and what had happened between Edie and Harry in the past. Scott’s vivid writing completely immersed me in Post WWI France. This book will appeal to all fans of historical fiction. It was raw. Real. And beautiful. This book in emojis 📷 🚃 🇫🇷 *** Big thanks to William Morro for my copy of this book ***

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    The Poppy Wife is set during and after World War I, the Great War. Edie’s husband, Francis, is missing and presumed dead after the war, and his brother, Harry, is present the day Francis went missing. Both Edie and Harry believe Francis is still out there, and each seeks to find him. Harry goes by his work, traveling to take pictures of soldiers’ graves, while Edie embarks on her own journey. Their paths are about to intersect, and will they find news of Francis? The aftermath of a war and its The Poppy Wife is set during and after World War I, the Great War. Edie’s husband, Francis, is missing and presumed dead after the war, and his brother, Harry, is present the day Francis went missing. Both Edie and Harry believe Francis is still out there, and each seeks to find him. Harry goes by his work, traveling to take pictures of soldiers’ graves, while Edie embarks on her own journey. Their paths are about to intersect, and will they find news of Francis? The aftermath of a war and its impact on the loved ones of those who are lost are captured in such an authentic and powerful way. The storyline is pierced masterfully together, and that lent itself to some great underlying tension. I enjoyed the literal and figurative journeys this book was, both for the reader and for Harry and Edie. Overall, The Poppy Wife is a beautifully-rendered, emotional story of the lessons we can learn from war and how to find hope and healing in even the darkest of times. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    ~Sofia~

    I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review as part of an Instagram book tour. I really hope I can do this book justice and put into words how great this novel really is. Scott does it so well, putting a devastating and tragic time into words. This is a remarkable piece of work. Here is a story based around the characters Edie and three brothers Francis, Harry and Will. Theirs is a story of love, heartbreak and bravery. Set at the end of the World War One this book puts I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review as part of an Instagram book tour. I really hope I can do this book justice and put into words how great this novel really is. Scott does it so well, putting a devastating and tragic time into words. This is a remarkable piece of work. Here is a story based around the characters Edie and three brothers Francis, Harry and Will. Theirs is a story of love, heartbreak and bravery. Set at the end of the World War One this book puts into words the aftermath of the First World War. We begin with a Timeline of events which proves useful, to then delve into these characters lives. The emotion that is conveyed from the outset is staggering. How Scott manages to put the varied emotions of these characters onto the page is impressive. As a reader I was with them every step of the way. This is in no way a light and fluffy read, it is pure, raw and devastating. What a brilliant portrayal of the harrowing aftermath of war. Scott captures the real despair of all those who’s family members went missing. The story comes together piece by piece. It’s a masterpiece of words that doesn’t just pull you into the fiction but the sobering truth of war as it really was. Reading this book was a journey and Scott reminds me of the motto surrounded by the Wars, “Lest we forget”as even though the characters in this novel are fiction, their circumstances are not. I felt once more reminded of the horrors. So during my time reading this book I purchased a dozen poppies and made sure everyone I knew wore one as we truly must never forget and Scott has done an excellent job of driving that message home. This is an excellent read and befitting for this time of year. Just make sure you have a box of tissues on hand.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Moving, powerful, intense. The legacy of war, in this case the First World War, is a theme vividly and movingly explored inThe Photographer of the Lost. There are the traumatic memories of conflict and survivor’s guilt of those who came back, like Harry, the lingering absence of those who didn’t, and the unfinished business of those reported missing in action, like Harry’s brother, Francis. Francis’ wife, Edie, joins many thousands of others hoping desperately for some miracle or, at the very Moving, powerful, intense. The legacy of war, in this case the First World War, is a theme vividly and movingly explored in The Photographer of the Lost. There are the traumatic memories of conflict and survivor’s guilt of those who came back, like Harry, the lingering absence of those who didn’t, and the unfinished business of those reported missing in action, like Harry’s brother, Francis. Francis’ wife, Edie, joins many thousands of others hoping desperately for some miracle or, at the very least, finding some resolution even if only a grave at which to mourn. Edie’s search is cleverly connected with the art of photography through Harry’s current occupation, photographing the graves of young men lost in the war as keepsakes for their grieving families and for fiancées who will now never become the wives of their sweethearts. Photographs – what they can and can’t say, the capturing of a likeness or of a moment in time – play an important part in the book. Harry and Edie both attempt to piece together clues from the photographs taken by Francis in order to uncover his story, revealing along the way a tangled web of relationships. However, alongside the grief of relatives and the wounds – physical and mental – suffered by those who survived, there are signs of hope. For example, as Harry returns to France in 1921 he sees evidence of the rebuilding of villages destroyed in the war and of their inhabitants slowly trying to return to something like normal life. I loved the way this is also reflected in the natural world. ‘There are lines of young, flimsy-looking trees planted around the edges of the cemetery. Beyond them are other trees, bent and blasted, with metal splinters embedded in some of their trunks. They are both ugly and beautiful, these stubborn trees; they are both candid witnesses and resurgent life. New growth breaks from scarred trunks.’ Harry also witnesses those attempting to respect the memories of the fallen through the careful tending of cemeteries or the maintenance of records that might reunite families or at least bring them closure. It’s a timely reminder as we approach Remembrance Day of the horror of war, its lasting impact on nations and individuals, and the efforts of many dedicated individuals to honour the fallen (continued to this day through the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.) The Photographer of the Lost will immerse you in the stories of its characters as they search for answers, for the strength to carry on and for forgiveness. Tissues at the ready, people.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Poignant, insightful, and profoundly moving! The Poppy Wife is predominantly set in the French countryside during 1921, as well as 1917, and is told from two different perspectives. Edie, a young British wife who after receiving a picture of her missing husband journeys to France to find him, dead or alive, and discover his fate wherever he may be, and Harry, the youngest of three brothers who endeavours to help his sister-in-law and others find some form of closure even while his own experiences Poignant, insightful, and profoundly moving! The Poppy Wife is predominantly set in the French countryside during 1921, as well as 1917, and is told from two different perspectives. Edie, a young British wife who after receiving a picture of her missing husband journeys to France to find him, dead or alive, and discover his fate wherever he may be, and Harry, the youngest of three brothers who endeavours to help his sister-in-law and others find some form of closure even while his own experiences and memories of war still plague and haunt him day and night. The prose is poetic, expressive, and stunningly vivid. The characters are damaged, determined, and courageous. And the plot is a heartrending, utterly absorbing tale about life, love, loneliness, familial relationships, heartbreak, war, loss, grief, guilt, hope, loyalty, and survival. Overall, The Poppy Wife is a beautifully written, exceptionally atmospheric novel that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you can’t help but be affected. It is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year that reminds us of the horrific consequences of war and the thousands of nameless men who still remain scattered underneath a savage battlefield. It’s emotive, powerful and as Kipling so iconically stated, “lest we forget.” Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A beautifully-written and very sad tale that moves between 1916/1917 on the front line during the First World War and 1921, when Harry returns to France to photograph war graves and battle scenes for the mourning relatives at home. He's also on the hunt for his brother Francis, lost in 1917 and presumed dead but without a known grave. Francis's wife Edie is also in France searching for the truth. But it's the people they both meet on their quests that make this novel so special, many of whom A beautifully-written and very sad tale that moves between 1916/1917 on the front line during the First World War and 1921, when Harry returns to France to photograph war graves and battle scenes for the mourning relatives at home. He's also on the hunt for his brother Francis, lost in 1917 and presumed dead but without a known grave. Francis's wife Edie is also in France searching for the truth. But it's the people they both meet on their quests that make this novel so special, many of whom have both physical and mental scars from the war, and all trying to remember (or forget) in their own way. It's desperately moving, so much so I did distance myself from it a little, but its beauty cannot be denied. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    Author Caroline Scott has taken my heart and tore it into a million pieces! The Photographer of the Lost is poignant, haunting and memorable and one of my top reads of the year. One day Edie receives a mysterious letter in the post. There's no note, no explanation, only a photograph of her husband Francis that she has never seen before. Francis has been missing for four years after going MIA in the Great War. The photo confuses her but also revives her hope that he may still be alive. Francis' Author Caroline Scott has taken my heart and tore it into a million pieces! The Photographer of the Lost is poignant, haunting and memorable and one of my top reads of the year. One day Edie receives a mysterious letter in the post. There's no note, no explanation, only a photograph of her husband Francis that she has never seen before. Francis has been missing for four years after going MIA in the Great War. The photo confuses her but also revives her hope that he may still be alive. Francis' brother Harry served alongside him, as did their other brother, Will. When Edie tells Harry about the photo of Francis she received he agrees to help her look into the photo and try to find out what happened to him. Harry is an artist but has taken up photography (which happened to be Francis' passion), to help people find the place where their loved one perished or were buried. He's also dealing with demons of his own - with one brother dead and the other missing, and the survivor's guilt that comes with it. Scott's writing is superb and at times prose-like. It's the kind of writing that you want to savor and even read aloud to fully appreciate it. I loved this passage... "They moved up through the old frontline, which was all wattle and hurdle and rotting wood. Harry was struck with how makeshift it all looked, how amateur and improvised and vulnerable. It felt like walking through ancient history and the sweet-rotten smell of it - sandbags spilled and other people's rubbish striated the earth walls like archeology. Harry looked at the mud-streaked fragments of candle wax and glass, the crumbling rust and the folds of hessian, and wondered who these people had been. Something about the old derelict trenches made them whisper." It's incredibly sad to think about all the young men that never made it home, who died in a foreign land away from the people that loved them, and for all of the families that never knew what happened to their sons, husbands, brothers, and for all of the lives irrevocably changed forever. I think The Photographer of the Lost is a very important read and I highly recommend it! I will definitely be checking out Caroline Scott's other books. She's got a new fan!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hampson

    This is such a powerful and heartbreaking story of the families back in Britain, after WW1 has ended, still living in hope that their missing loved ones may still be alive. The year is 1921, Edie has made a pilgrimage to France searching for her missing, presumed dead, husband Francis after receiving a photo of him in the post. His brother Harry had been the last one to see him alive. Badly wounded he had left him to be taken care of, although he said he was sure he would die. All trace had been This is such a powerful and heartbreaking story of the families back in Britain, after WW1 has ended, still living in hope that their missing loved ones may still be alive. The year is 1921, Edie has made a pilgrimage to France searching for her missing, presumed dead, husband Francis after receiving a photo of him in the post. His brother Harry had been the last one to see him alive. Badly wounded he had left him to be taken care of, although he said he was sure he would die. All trace had been lost of him then. Harry and Edie run into each other in France, Harry is employed by families to take photographs of loved one's graves that have been killed in the war. Harry needs to find out too if his brother is alive to make amends with him about something in the past if he is. The story drops back to both before the war and during it and the effect on families and loved ones. How it changed people and relationships. It is a beautifully written story but brutal in its honesty too. I felt a sadness so deep in certain chapters and all I could think was this is how it must have been for so many. It is a tremendous achievement for an author to make a reader feel such grief. My connection to the characters was just so intense. If Francis is still alive what could the reason be that he hasn't gone home? As the chapters get closer to the end my heart pounded so much. A very touching story. I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    Was it so wrong to feel that she had been treated unfairly? That she'd been judged and damned and had not had the right to defend herself? I stayed up until 1am to finish this novel, set in 1921, following a veteran and a widow of World War I. It had shades of Graham Greene and Alfred Hitchcock, too: a vague menace stalking our main characters, who were trying to find peace in a Europe looking to neatly memorialize what had happened. I've mostly given up novels set in eitherWorld War I or World Was it so wrong to feel that she had been treated unfairly? That she'd been judged and damned and had not had the right to defend herself? I stayed up until 1am to finish this novel, set in 1921, following a veteran and a widow of World War I. It had shades of Graham Greene and Alfred Hitchcock, too: a vague menace stalking our main characters, who were trying to find peace in a Europe looking to neatly memorialize what had happened. I've mostly given up novels set in eitherWorld War I or World War II; I'd read so many that I was feeling like I was getting the same thing over and over. This is Caroline Scott's debut novel, and she manages to not only create a story with the hold-your-breath tension of a domestic thriller, but she also brilliantly (tearfully) evokes the terror and horror of trench combat. Edie's husband Francis was an amateur photographer listed as missing, presumed dead in 1917. Her brother-in-law Harry swears he saw Francis die in combat. For the most part, Edie has come to terms with the unknowing, until one day she receives a portrait of Francis, sent to her without any note. The Francis she sees in the photograph looks impossibly old, too old to be the man she knew in 1917. Haunted by his combat experience, and the only of his three brothers to have survived the war, Harry travels through Europe photographing graves and battle sites for families who can't afford to travel to them. Edie has begged him to find the place of Francis' death, a request even more urgent after the arrival of Francis' portrait. Scott breaks her novel up into three parts -- Harry's search, Edie's search, and Harry's combat experience in 1917. Floating throughout the novel is this idea of what is past, what is present as villages and towns in France struggle to both commemorate the horror and loss from the war as well as move on and grow. Scott uses past tense for the portions in 1917 and present tense for those in 1921, and it brilliantly emphasizes -- and toys with -- what is done and what is unfolding, what we think is certain and what seems flexible. I haven't read any novels set in the immediate aftermath of World War I, and I loved that Scott explored that time. Imagine having to come up with a way to commemorate the enormous loss of life and resources while also trying to survive! I hate to say I was captivated because that sounds so awful, but I was fascinated by this aspect of post-war life, and it made for a wonderful backdrop for characters who are unable to shed the past so cleanly. I won't be forgetting this book soon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    I don't even know where to begin with my thoughts on this book - other than that I adored every single blooming page!! I found it to be such a stunning read that really captured the atmosphere of the time, the grief shared by so many and the limbo that many families were left feeling after the First World War when their loved ones were missing in action. At a time when many were celebrating the War being over, many were left with so many unanswered questions with no word on the missing soldiers I don't even know where to begin with my thoughts on this book - other than that I adored every single blooming page!! I found it to be such a stunning read that really captured the atmosphere of the time, the grief shared by so many and the limbo that many families were left feeling after the First World War when their loved ones were missing in action. At a time when many were celebrating the War being over, many were left with so many unanswered questions with no word on the missing soldiers and they were left clutching to the faint hope that these men were in a French hospital, unable to get in contact with those back home. It's a story of brotherhood and the bonds between loved ones with 3 brothers going off to fight in the Great War - Francis, Harry and Will - and the desperate search for Francis after the war by his brother Harry and Francis's wife Edie who was desperate to know what happened to him - even more so when she receives an envelope containing a photograph of him, 4 years after he'd gone missing. When was it taken? Where was it taken? Who was it from? Was he still alive? Harry becomes a 'photographer of the lost' on his return, which means he goes back to France often to take photos of gravestones for those back home who want a picture of the final resting place for their loved ones and the surrounding areas - while there he devotes much of his time to trying to track down the likely places his brother may have gone, and also meets others doing similar searches for their family members. The story changes effortlessly from the time in France after the War, to the past when the brothers were setting off to war together - their experiences on the front line, their fears, the banter they used to lighten the mood - they were just young boys and you just can't even begin to imagine the sights they were witness to. Edie too sets off to France to try her best to get some answers for herself, and her storyline also looks back on how she and Francis met and how close they all were - she can't move on until she knows the truth about her husband. This was often a very sombre and haunting read, but so beautifully descriptive and made you totally understand just how lost people were when they didn't know what had happened to those who didn't come back home - they felt restless until they knew and would cling on to the hope that they'd turn up on the doorstep one day. It brilliantly showed the human aspect of war - on those who went to fight and on those who were left behind waiting for letters and contact. An outstanding and memorable book. Easily one of my favourite reads of 2019!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex (PaperbackPiano)

    I was immediately hooked by the prologue of this one (which you can read on my blog if you are interested!) The writing flows absolutely beautifully and I was completely swept away in the story. The setting was conjured so effortlessly; I could picture every desolate French field and every detail in Edie’s Lancashire home. The author made me feel for every single character in this book, even those we only meet in passing. I totally felt like I was on this journey with them. And wow, was it an I was immediately hooked by the prologue of this one (which you can read on my blog if you are interested!) The writing flows absolutely beautifully and I was completely swept away in the story. The setting was conjured so effortlessly; I could picture every desolate French field and every detail in Edie’s Lancashire home. The author made me feel for every single character in this book, even those we only meet in passing. I totally felt like I was on this journey with them. And wow, was it an emotional one. This book will seriously make you feel things. The book moves seamlessly between past and present, and between Harry and Edie’s perspectives. I loved the chapters detailing the brothers’ time at war; these chapters felt so raw and visceral, and I couldn’t get enough! I definitely recommend this one for fans of historical fiction! Read the prologue on my blog - The Paperback Piano

  13. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hill

    The end of WW1 is just the beginning of the search for missing loved ones for so many families. I’ve been sitting here some time wondering how to do justice to Caroline Scott’s wonderful, heartbreaking and unforgettable The Photographer of the Lost. I think I might find it impossible to convey what a beautifully written, moving and profound book it is. I had thought I might have had enough of reading about WW1, but The Photographer of the Lost transcends just about everything else I’ve read about The end of WW1 is just the beginning of the search for missing loved ones for so many families. I’ve been sitting here some time wondering how to do justice to Caroline Scott’s wonderful, heartbreaking and unforgettable The Photographer of the Lost. I think I might find it impossible to convey what a beautifully written, moving and profound book it is. I had thought I might have had enough of reading about WW1, but The Photographer of the Lost transcends just about everything else I’ve read about the era because of its exquisite balance of focus on the war and the aftermath for those left behind. Caroline Scott’s prose is stunning. At times poetic, at times stark, there isn’t an unnecessary syllable in this perfectly crafted narrative. That isn’t to say it feels unnaturally polished or contrived, but rather that Caroline Scott has given her very soul to her writing to ensure she conveys exactly what she needs so that the reader is completely mesmerised. I found reading The Photographer of the Lost such an intense experience I had to give myself short breaks to process the emotion, whilst simultaneously being unable to tear myself away from Harry and Edie’s story. The Photographer of the Lost was in my head the whole time, even when I was sleeping. There is little direct speech, but what is there thrums with emotion even when it is deceptively simple in appearance. The story itself in The Photographer of the Lost is brilliantly wrought. The passages set during the war placed me so vividly there that I felt I was experiencing the same aspects as the men. The black humour and camaraderie between the soldiers ameliorates perfectly their situations and locations and their petty resentments and jibes illustrate exactly what life was like. The representations of France and Belgium both during the war and in 1921 are so evocative that there is a cimematic quality to Caroline Scott’s writing. Descriptions are fantastic, so that I could picture every setting perfectly. Indeed, if The Photographer of the Lost doesn’t become a feature film, there is no justice. But for all that, it is the characterisation that is so fabulous and makes The Photographer of the Lost so emotive. Although he is ‘lost’ throughout the majority of the book, Francis has such presence that he represents every single one of those who were missing at the end of the war. The way in which fate and small items (which I can’t reveal because they would spoil the plot) alter his life and history, alongside the huge arena of war, is utterly heartbreaking. There’s a brittle quality to many of the characters, Edie especially, that creates an almost unbearable tension in the writing. My heart physically ached for these people. They were as real to me as anyone I know and Harry’s awful task of photographing graves and buildings for those back in England desperate for some kind of closure brought a new perspective to reading about WW1 that felt as terrible as any factual account ever has. I was touched, educated and saddened in equal measure. The Photographer of the Lost is a beautiful, haunting and unforgettable story. At the end of the novel I wept for them all; for Francis, Edie, Harry, for the lost and the found, and all those whose lives were so affected by events during that terrible time. Caroline Scott has written a wonderful tribute in her absorbing, moving narrative. The Photographer of the Lost is a remarkable book and I adored every word..

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma Shaw

    The Photographer of the Lost is a soulful, poignant, haunting and immersive debut novel. It is a story of sorrow and hope that highlights a part of history rarely remembered; the thousands who simply vanished. Brothers Francis, Will and Harry all fought together in France during World War I, but Harry was the only one to return home. He carries the guilt of this every day and has never felt able to settle there again. Instead, he travels taking photographs of graves for the families of those The Photographer of the Lost is a soulful, poignant, haunting and immersive debut novel. It is a story of sorrow and hope that highlights a part of history rarely remembered; the thousands who simply vanished. Brothers Francis, Will and Harry all fought together in France during World War I, but Harry was the only one to return home. He carries the guilt of this every day and has never felt able to settle there again. Instead, he travels taking photographs of graves for the families of those killed in action, offering a small crumb of comfort in their time of grief. Back in England, Francis’s wife, Edie, has accepted her husband is ‘missing presumed dead’. But when she receives an envelope containing a photograph taken by Francis four years after he was last seen, she has a surge of hope and she decides to go to France to search for answers. Also in France, Harry adds Francis’s name to his list, determined to find his brother’s final resting place. But after hearing about the photograph he starts to wonder if Francis could really be alive, and begins an urgent search for the truth. We follow Edie and Harry as they search for Francis, meeting others also touched by the horrors of war along the way. But, as they begin to unravel the truth, it looks like they will be torn further apart. Can they find answers while also repairing the only link to family they both have left? This novel was truly breathtaking. The author’s portrayal of the harrowing reality of war, of life in the trenches, how villages and towns were reduced to rubble and left in ruin, and the anguish felt by those who survived, was powerful and profound. But this emotional journey wasn’t just somber, this was also a story about survival, endurance, love and hope. Her writing was full of vivid imagery that made me feel like everything on the page was playing on a movie reel in my mind. The characters each showed optimism and resilience despite all they’ve gone through and illustrated the sheer magnitude of the devastation left behind by war, how everyone you meet will have been touched by some kind of loss. The author wrote with such potency that I felt like I was feeling every trauma they endured and they and their stories will stay with me long after reading. The Photographer of the Lost is a magnificent and beautifully written piece of historical fiction by an author that is one to watch. A deeply affecting story of love, death, heartbreak and hope, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre. Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for the ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    A story of love, loss, guilt, and hope, The Poppy Wife is a moving and poignant debut from Caroline Scott. Three years after the end of the Great War, Edie receives a photograph of her husband in the mail. There is no note with the photo, in which Edie thinks Francis looks much older than when she saw him last just months before he was declared missing in action, and only a blurred French postmark provides any clues as to its origin. Unable to ignore the possibility her husband somehow survived A story of love, loss, guilt, and hope, The Poppy Wife is a moving and poignant debut from Caroline Scott. Three years after the end of the Great War, Edie receives a photograph of her husband in the mail. There is no note with the photo, in which Edie thinks Francis looks much older than when she saw him last just months before he was declared missing in action, and only a blurred French postmark provides any clues as to its origin. Unable to ignore the possibility her husband somehow survived the war, Edie travels to France in search of answers. Harry has never doubted his older brother died that day in the mud of Ypres, he saw the bullets rip through his body on the battlefield. So, as Harry travels the French countryside photographing graves for mourning relatives in England, he searches for his brother’s resting place. Yet as long as Francis remains listed as MIA, neither officially dead or alive, perhaps he, and Edie, have cause to hope. The Poppy Wife is a stunning story moving between two timelines. The first during the final years of WWI primarily explores Harry’s experience of war, fighting alongside his brothers along the Front. The second takes place in 1921, where the narrative shifts between the perspectives of Edie and Harry as they travel independently, and together, searching for any sign of Francis. Scott highlights a devastating aspect of the WWI’s aftermath in The Poppy Wife. During the war hundreds of thousands of fallen soldiers were buried without proper records, and after its end, the final resting place of almost as many remained unidentified. This left some families in limbo, never absolutely certain about the fate of their loved one. For many years after the war, the loved ones of the ‘lost’ journeyed to countries such as France and Belgium in the hopes of either finding their father or son, brother or husband alive, or proof of their death. It is an emotionally harrowing journey for both Edie and Harry, and Scott skilfully communicates their struggle with their warring feelings of hope, guilt, and despair. Harry also finds himself constantly confronted by memories of the trauma he experienced on the battlefield, and the loss of both his brothers, and friends. Beautifully written, with description that evokes the horror of war, the battle scarred lands of France, and the fraught emotions of the characters, The Poppy Wife is a stirring and thoughtful story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I am really glad I read this book. It is thoroughly haunting and so beautifully written. It spends a lot of time considering what life was like for those left behind at the end of war and it really made me think quite deeply about those left at the end of the war, what they went through and had to come to terms with in order to just exist. The story looks at two characters in particular the first being Harry a soldier who survived that war and now makes his money going over the battle sites to I am really glad I read this book. It is thoroughly haunting and so beautifully written. It spends a lot of time considering what life was like for those left behind at the end of war and it really made me think quite deeply about those left at the end of the war, what they went through and had to come to terms with in order to just exist. The story looks at two characters in particular the first being Harry a soldier who survived that war and now makes his money going over the battle sites to photograph sites of special interest or graves for loved ones back home. He story is such a sad one because even though he survived the war he isn't really living and spends his time feeling guilty at having survived and surrounded by constant reminders of what he went through whilst he goes about his working literally visiting sites he fought at. There was something so real and sad about his story that really touched me because his story could be any of those men who signed up for WWI not really knowing what they let themselves in for. The other main character was Edie, Harry's sister in law who is still searching for her husband several years after the end of 1918 having never had confirmation about what really happened to her husband. Her story was so incredibly sad as she leads this life in limbo unable to move forward without knowing the truth about what has happened and resigned to a life again wandering the sites in Flanders trying to find some answers. Once again her experience so easily could have been the experience of so many other women at the time. This books also does really justice to the World War One Battlefield sites. The way in which is talks about the sites around Ypres helps the reader really start to get a sense of their vastness but more importantly the utter devastation the experience of war left behind for the people of Belgium and France and the impact this continued to have long after armistice day. This certainly isn't something we talk enough about in the UK because most of the fighting didn't happen on our doorstep. All in all a brilliant book which I know will stay with me for a long time to come.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Gilmore

    When I think about the period between the wars, I tend to think of Bright Young Things, cocktails and jazz, Bertie Wooster, Jarrow and depression, The Remains of the Day, people moving on in every way from the WW1, in hemlines and music and food and social mores. Golden Age crime and glamorous rail travel, cucumber sandwiches and red lipstick. I don't think about what it must have been like picking up the pieces after four years of devastation. At least, I hadn't until I read The Photographer of When I think about the period between the wars, I tend to think of Bright Young Things, cocktails and jazz, Bertie Wooster, Jarrow and depression, The Remains of the Day, people moving on in every way from the WW1, in hemlines and music and food and social mores. Golden Age crime and glamorous rail travel, cucumber sandwiches and red lipstick. I don't think about what it must have been like picking up the pieces after four years of devastation. At least, I hadn't until I read The Photographer of the Lost, sent to me as an ARC by the publishers. There is nothing glamorous in this world of broken men and searching widows. It's a world of iron filled battlefields, graves and debris, of villages and towns turned to rubble, shanty towns sprouting in the midst as villagers try and rebuild, dusty boarding houses with paper thin walls and peeling paint, filled with the first of the battle ground tourists, some already consumed by curiosity, others just consumed. Harry joined up in 2016 along with his two brothers. The sole survivor he now travels northern France and Belgium, taking photographs of graves and battle sights to send to bereaved families, enabling them to have closure in a time before mass travel made the pilgrimage possible to all. Part pilgrim, part chronicler, he still has nightmares of his own time in the trenches he travels. Meanwhile his sister in law, Edie, has become convinced her missing husband Francis is still alive and charges Harry to find either his grave or find him, impatiently journeying to Ypres herself on a quest to find out what happened to the golden haired boy she loved and how he turned into the dead eyed man she lost. The Photographer of the Lost is an extraordinary odyssey through broken lands and broken lives as memorials are erected in bereaved villages and photographs displayed in bereaved houses. Set in both 1921 and during 1916/1917 we experience the truth of Harry's war and the truth of his atonement as he struggles to come to terms with his brothers' deaths and his own survival. Taut, elegant and evocative, it's a haunting look at grief and the very human need for closure. Highly recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Wartime, lasting heartache, and unconditional love. I rate this book a 3/5 This was my first Caroline Scott novel and I was hooked from the very first page. The introduction was so strong and immediately made you feel as if you were apart of the story. Caroline Scott delivered a true anecdote of the harsh reality many faced during times of war. The storyline itself was very real and held lots of emotion. You felt the same pain the characters in the novel and individuals alike felt during this Wartime, lasting heartache, and unconditional love. I rate this book a 3/5 This was my first Caroline Scott novel and I was hooked from the very first page. The introduction was so strong and immediately made you feel as if you were apart of the story. Caroline Scott delivered a true anecdote of the harsh reality many faced during times of war. The storyline itself was very real and held lots of emotion. You felt the same pain the characters in the novel and individuals alike felt during this wartime era. The attention to real life events and places was outstanding and at times very informative. A true connection between writer and reader was formed through a passion of lifelong love. However I found myself very distracted by overly done attention to detail. I often times found myself lost in the sentences due to their lengthy descriptions. Numerous times I had to backtrack in my reading to fully grasp and or remember the theme of the sentence, paragraph or chapter at hand. Sadly this made me lose interest in the book as I found myself lost way too often that it was hard to get back on track. If you are a true lover of historical fiction and wartime this is a book for you sadly it was just not the book for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beverley

    https://beverleyhasread.wordpress.com/ Way, way back when I did my English Literature degree I did a module on World War 1 and its aftermath. I read poetry and fiction that encapsulated the era and it fostered a real love of historical fiction in me. Since then I seem to have read a lot of books about the Second World War but appear to have seriously neglected the period in time before then. This has changed however with my latest read, The Photographer of The Lost by Caroline Scott, a beautiful https://beverleyhasread.wordpress.com/ Way, way back when I did my English Literature degree I did a module on World War 1 and its aftermath. I read poetry and fiction that encapsulated the era and it fostered a real love of historical fiction in me. Since then I seem to have read a lot of books about the Second World War but appear to have seriously neglected the period in time before then. This has changed however with my latest read, The Photographer of The Lost by Caroline Scott, a beautiful and sweeping novel set in the early 1920s in England, France and Belgium. This is both a multi person and dual timeline novel about two people whose lives were changed forever by the Great War. Edie Blythe is living alone in the house which belongs to her husband’s family but is now filled with ghosts, absences and memories. Her husband, Francis went to war with his brothers Harry and Will but only has Harry returned. She opens a door and expects to see her husband or one of his brothers sitting at a table, their photos line the mantelpiece and their bedrooms are waiting for their return. Harry has found himself unable to return home, desperately in love with his late brother’s wife he prefers to roam France and Belgium photographing war graves for the relatives of fallen soldiers. When a photograph of Francis arrives at Edie’s house she is shocked – she saw him a month before he died when he was home on leave and he looks much, much older in the image. Is Francis still alive? If so, where is he and why hasn’t he come home? What follows is a haunting and beautiful novel where Edie is propelled into action and takes herself to the battlefields of France and Belgium in search of her husband. We watch as she visits towns and villages where her husband and his brothers once fought, she walks down streets which are still strewn with debris from bombing and she passes buildings which still bear the bullet wounds from gun fire. The devastation of the war is laid bare in unflinching detail and it makes for emotional reading. Interspersed with this are Harry’s chapters where he too is travelling to the same towns and villages. For him though, these visits are to places he has been before. Each corner holds a memory of a time where he and his brothers were hunkered down in a trench as shells and mortar passed over their heads and of the quiet occasions where he would sketch and Francis would take photographs. Harry’s memories and recollections are some of the saddest things I have ever read – they’re almost too sombre to bear. I was seriously affected by the scale of the devastation and the long lasting effects depicted in the novel. There are lots of references to the length of time it will take to recover, of soldiers still lost, decades of work ahead to unpick the knots and get back to some sort of normality. There are rooms filled with the belongings of soldiers and wives search through box after box of spectacles looking for a pair that may have belonged to their husbands. There are graveyards with white crosses as far as the eye can see and many, many men still missing. I found it unbearable seeing the sadness and devastation and the work undertaken to fix it knowing that in a few years it would happen all over again. Whilst both Edie and Harry are searching for Francis, they are ultimately looking for themselves too. The war has changed them both and they are yearning for the people they once were. I wanted to hug Harry whose life is spent trying to atone for his actions, wandering the land photographing graveyards and fields. He is lonely, driven by loss and grief and the guilt that he feels for the loving his brother’s wife. It did take me a little while to get into this book as I found the multi-person and time jumps a little jarring but once I was in I was fully connected. It is hauntingly beautiful and quietly powerful. It needs some dedicated reading time so you can become fully immersed and fall in love with Harry and Edie. It is an accomplished debut which examines a time period that is often overlooked and deftly communicates the scale of loss and sacrifice that was made. I highly recommend it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    The Poppy Wife is the story of lives torn apart by World War I. Francis, Harry, and Will are British brothers who go to war. Will is killed in action. Francis and Harry are in love with the same woman (although Francis married her). Francis is presumed killed, but his body is not found. Harry returns from war, a broken man. Edie is Francis's wife, left in limbo wondering what happened to him. One day she gets a photograph in the mail that looks like an older version of her husband. She goes off The Poppy Wife is the story of lives torn apart by World War I. Francis, Harry, and Will are British brothers who go to war. Will is killed in action. Francis and Harry are in love with the same woman (although Francis married her). Francis is presumed killed, but his body is not found. Harry returns from war, a broken man. Edie is Francis's wife, left in limbo wondering what happened to him. One day she gets a photograph in the mail that looks like an older version of her husband. She goes off to France searching for answers, traveling a path that crisscrosses with the one Harry is traveling as he photographs gravesites for families. I wanted to read this novel because the subject matter is so intriguing. I have read historical fiction about World War I, but never a book focusing on stories like the one of Francis in this book. This is absolutely the most beautifully told, heartbreaking book. The imagery is extraordinary. I was struck, over and over, by the images of Harry traveling through France, photographing gravesites and places that soldiers last visited for their families. On his travels he befriends Rachel, a woman whose husband is also presumed killed - and who desperately seeks answers. He also befriends Gabriel, a stonemason and former soldier who is working on a war memorial. And then there is Edie. She is a fascinating character, looking for answers and at the same time scared at what she can find. Even before he went missing, her husband was distant and changed. She is drawn to Harry and confused about her feelings. The book is told in short chapters, some from Edie's viewpoint, and some from Harry's. The chapters begin with a location heading - locales through France and Great Britain. The descriptions in this book are breathtaking. For instance, Edie wakes up in Arras, France: "The morning light is creeping across the rooftops. Once upon a time this skyline would have been spiked with belfries and church steeples, but today the towers have all come down and the roofline is tattered. The white shape of the cathedral is like a ghost of a building. Smoke starts to rise from the chimney opposite Edie's window and a flight of starlings streaks along the street below and then wheels above. She envies the birds the lift of their wings as she turns away" (p. 85). I was so engrossed in this book that I felt like time stopped while I was reading. I literally could not put it down. I have been thinking of it since. I cannot recommend The Poppy Wife highly enough for fans of historical fiction. This book is sure to be one of my favorite reads of 2019, and I think it will top many other lists as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thepennotthesword

    I have to be honest and say that if you had asked me a week ago, I would have probably DNFed this book and I certainly would not have thought that this book could have been worth a 4-star rating. How wrong was I! I had no idea that I actually had one of the most emotional and thought-provoking books I would ever read on my kindle.. I have to thank a train delay and journey for me actually reading this book. Yesterday, I was stuck at Waterloo train station, and I figured that I would have one last I have to be honest and say that if you had asked me a week ago, I would have probably DNFed this book and I certainly would not have thought that this book could have been worth a 4-star rating. How wrong was I! I had no idea that I actually had one of the most emotional and thought-provoking books I would ever read on my kindle.
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 I have to thank a train delay and journey for me actually reading this book. Yesterday, I was stuck at Waterloo train station, and I figured that I would have one last crack at reading this. I had previously struggled a couple of times to get into this book as it is a bit of a slow-burner for me, but the lengthy train journey and the time I had to just sit there and read enabled me to have my attention fully captivated by this absolutely remarkable story.
 
This story, of family, three brothers fighting the war and their own internal battles, and the struggles of the families of those missing, was so emotionally-gripping that it swept me up and kept me hanging onto every last word. It was such an incredibly powerful story of love, war, and loss. I was fighting tears back throughout this beautiful story. The loss felt by the main characters is so extensive that their ability to keep fighting and keep on searching is just awe-inspiring.
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 What makes this story all the more remarkable is that in the war, there were genuine families that went through what Scott portrays in her novel. This story presents the sad realities of war intermingled with the continuous search for answers the characters know they may never receive. This story really puts the sufferings of those fighting, those left behind, and those who never find their 'lost' into perspective.
 I'm not normally one who enjoys flashbacks in novels, but the flashbacks were used by Scott so effectively, in that it flash-backed to the war time and gave you information that made you understand the present day of the novel and pulled on your heartstrings at the same time. They make you love and appreciate the story and the characters even more.
 
The love and betrayal are so powerful that it really does break your heart. This story is so incredibly sad yet it has this underlying message of hope and love that is undeniably beautiful. That in a time where the main characters are suffering with so grief and pain, that there is the potential for new hope and new starts in life.
 The only reason I rated it a 4 out of 5 is because it was a slow-starter and took me a couple of tries to really get into it. However, once I started it, I couldn't stop and I finished it in two sittings. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, fiction from the war time, or anyone that loves to read period!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lel Budge

    Set in 1921, the Great War is over, but with so many men missing their families are in a kind of limbo, not knowing if they’re, sons, brothers or husbands are alive or dead. Edie’s husband, Francis is reported missing …could he still be alive somewhere? Francis’ brother, Harry is a photographer, himself suffering PTSD after his own experiences during the war. He takes photos of soldiers graves, to send back to families to give them a form of closure. When Edie searches for Francis, she meets Harry Set in 1921, the Great War is over, but with so many men missing their families are in a kind of limbo, not knowing if they’re, sons, brothers or husbands are alive or dead. Edie’s husband, Francis is reported missing …could he still be alive somewhere? Francis’ brother, Harry is a photographer, himself suffering PTSD after his own experiences during the war. He takes photos of soldiers graves, to send back to families to give them a form of closure. When Edie searches for Francis, she meets Harry and together they try to find answers. This is a beautifully written, incredibly moving tale of love, loss and hope. How the effects of war don’t end just because the fighting has stopped. Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Freeman

    This book is so unique in its perspective on WWI, it is unlike other books I have read set in this timeframe. For me there was so much to learn and was drawn into Harry and Edie's stories. However I will admit given the issues tackled by this book, it is not lighthearted but it opened my eyes to this time in history. I am so glad I read this book and it was so fitting that I started it on November 11.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Photographer Of The Lost was a book that I couldn’t wait to read. I knew it would upset me, books like this always do, but I was upset for different reasons than I expected. The story about those who want to find missing service men is one I knew would affect me, families desperate for answers about husbands and sons who they knew deep down had lost their lives and wanted to see their resting place. For proof and some form of closure. It is something, to my shame, that I had never given much The Photographer Of The Lost was a book that I couldn’t wait to read. I knew it would upset me, books like this always do, but I was upset for different reasons than I expected. The story about those who want to find missing service men is one I knew would affect me, families desperate for answers about husbands and sons who they knew deep down had lost their lives and wanted to see their resting place. For proof and some form of closure. It is something, to my shame, that I had never given much though too. It is easier to think that it concerned just a handful of people, but the author shows how many thousands of families never had their answers. The other thing I never really thought about was the rebuilding of the communities after the war. You often see images of the trenches on the news, followed by images of the pristine cemeteries. I have never seen anything about the time when houses and churches were being rebuilt, the cemeteries being prepared. All with respect, dignity and pride by local men. Many things will stay with me. The nightmares experienced by Harry, his siblings and friends lost. The pride of the workmen and ex service men who were trying their best. And the description of a recently abandoned home that still had a vase of fresh flowers. Absolutely stunning, The Photographer Of The Lost is one of the best books I have read this year.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sharlene

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It drew me in from page one and kept me interested all the way to the end. I had no idea I knew so little about WWI until I read this book. A great book for historical fiction fans. *Easy-to-read *Entertaining *Great world building *Informative *Page-turner *Wonderful characters *Haunting *Could-not-put-down

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dee Groocock

    Harry, Will and Francis are 3 brothers who have all joined up for World War 1 and we follow them through their experiences. Edie is married to Francis and is told that he is missing in action. When she received a photograph of Francis through the post with no other details, she wonders if he is still alive and decides to go to France to look for him. Harry is the only survivor of the brothers and has become a photographer since the war ended, he goes to France to photograph graves for grieving Harry, Will and Francis are 3 brothers who have all joined up for World War 1 and we follow them through their experiences. Edie is married to Francis and is told that he is missing in action. When she received a photograph of Francis through the post with no other details, she wonders if he is still alive and decides to go to France to look for him. Harry is the only survivor of the brothers and has become a photographer since the war ended, he goes to France to photograph graves for grieving loved ones. When he finds out about the photograph, he too joins in the search and tries to keep his true feelings for Edie secret. The writer has written a descriptive and vivid book, which is also beautifully written and very moving. When the brothers were in the trenches, you could feel their fear and the tension that would have been experienced by them. The writer has also written how Harry is struggling after the war with his nightmares and shakes, all things we now know to be PTSD, which so many soldiers would have experienced at that time. I would highly recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster UK for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sue Plant

    would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this haunting book world war one and the aftermath....a poignant tale of life after the war and how many wives and families embarked on a journey to find their husband graves harry was a soldier in that war along with his brothers, harry longed to be an artist but after the war he became a photographer of the lost...bringing he hoped release to families by sending them photos of the graves of the heroes he was requested to find would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this haunting book world war one and the aftermath....a poignant tale of life after the war and how many wives and families embarked on a journey to find their husband graves harry was a soldier in that war along with his brothers, harry longed to be an artist but after the war he became a photographer of the lost...bringing he hoped release to families by sending them photos of the graves of the heroes he was requested to find along the way he relived his memories of his time served in the war...he also is trying to find out what happened to his eldest brother edie has received a photo of her husband, harrys brother and believe him to be alive but lost...this is also the story of the journey they both take to find him... a poignant story that does not glorify war in any way but it leaves a mark, as it should

  28. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    Okay, the story here is fascinating. There are many novels set in post WWI England, but this is the first I have read that focuses on families either grieving for their lost sons/brothers/spouses or those unable to grieve because they have had no closure. Good material. Women searching amidst the ruin of post-war France for their loved ones, going from town to town looking at belongings. Women requesting photographs of their loved ones' graves. However, poor execution. I know that a lot of Okay, the story here is fascinating. There are many novels set in post WWI England, but this is the first I have read that focuses on families either grieving for their lost sons/brothers/spouses or those unable to grieve because they have had no closure. Good material. Women searching amidst the ruin of post-war France for their loved ones, going from town to town looking at belongings. Women requesting photographs of their loved ones' graves. However, poor execution. I know that a lot of reviews say the writing is beautiful, but I didn't find it so. I really dislike the use of the present simple, third person, I find books written in it are annoying to read. I disliked the switching from person to person, time to time, it's just not fluid. And I found the lead characters unsatisfying, and preferred the minor characters--the English officer and his wife working to create cemeteries for the English war dead, Rachel, the widow Harry meets along the way. They were more likeable and somehow felt more real. And one last quibble--this is set in France, yet no one on either side seems to have much of a language barrier. Are the main characters fluent in French, or is this steampunk and someone has invented a universal translator?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan Collins

    I really enjoyed reading this novel with all its historical details about WWI. I definitely learned about the war as I read. The during and after war descriptions of the French countryside were vivid and specific. Much research by the author was evident; as the reader, i appreciated these details. The plot emphasized the importance of brotherly love both in the family and among the soldiers. I recommend this great historical story!

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Prestidge

    The Photographer of The Lost by Caroline Scott is centred on the events of 1914-18 but, more particularly, their aftermath. Picture a Britain where over 800,000 fathers, brothers, husbands and sons have been killed. The vast majority of those – if they have a known grave – are buried far from home. Sometimes the only things relatives have left are the initial fatal letter from the authorities, a mass-produced scroll of honour ‘signed’ by the King on behalf of a grateful nation and probably a The Photographer of The Lost by Caroline Scott is centred on the events of 1914-18 but, more particularly, their aftermath. Picture a Britain where over 800,000 fathers, brothers, husbands and sons have been killed. The vast majority of those – if they have a known grave – are buried far from home. Sometimes the only things relatives have left are the initial fatal letter from the authorities, a mass-produced scroll of honour ‘signed’ by the King on behalf of a grateful nation and probably a Death Penny – a large copper disc bearing a picture of Britannia and inscribed with the name of the deceased. It is 1921. In Britain, dignified war memorials, paid for by public subscription, are beginning to be dedicated. In France and Belgium most cities and towns within artillery range of the Old Front Line stand in ruins, while villages are usually reduced to random piles of shattered bricks. The dead are everywhere. In places where the living have yet to re-establish themselves there are crosses. Thousands upon thousands of simple wooden crosses, distinguished one from the other with a basic aluminium strip, letters stamped on it and pinned to the wood. A former officer, now a worker for what would become the Commonwealth War Graves Commission explains his mission: “There are going to be cemeteries with white grave markers – gardens of sleep – real English gardens. There will be wallflowers and forget-me-nots and pansies and bible words cut in stone. They’ll be places that their families can visit and hopefully find some comfort. I was meant to bring their boys home; this is the best alternative that I’m able to offer.” Harry Blythe makes his living meeting a macabre but necessary demand. He travels the shattered countryside, on commission from relatives, taking photographs of the crosses, or the places of which dead men spoke in their letters home. There were three Blythe brothers, Will, Harry and Francis. Only Harry has survived the conflict. As in other silent houses across the country, mothers did what mothers always do – adjust and try to get on with things: “In the weeks after Will’s death, Margaret Blythe had cleaned out his room, boxing up her son’s books, birds’ eggs and football boots ….. everything of Will had moved up into the attic.” The story hinges on Harry and Francis’s widow Edie. Edie has received an envelope in which is photograph of Francis. No words. No explanation. No sender. The postmark is smudged beyond interpretation. She and Harry have, in the years since Francis was reported missing in action, exhausted themselves interrogating an overwhelmed bureaucracy in a vain attempt to locate a grave. It should be explained at this point that such was the chaos in the trenches that many men disappeared without trace. Literally. Memorials to men who have no known grave are many, and the numbers defy belief. Thiepval, 72,000; the Menin Gate, 54,000; Arras, 35,000 to name but three. This was beyond death. It was dehumanisation: “Most of the burials here have no names, he sees. These men have all been swallowed up by the earth, their identities gone, along with their futures. Thy have lost their bones, their blood, and the name that bound it all together and made them into that particular man.” Harry and Edie travel to The Old Front Line independently, but their paths converge. There is a painful frisson running through the narrative because Harry is – and probably always was – deeply in love with Edie, and in one of their last conversations, fuelled by whisky and within the sound of the guns, Francis bitterly confronts his brother with the prospect of Edie being a fraternal legacy after his own death. By 1921, pilgrimages to The Old Front Line have become big business. Visitors are everywhere, armed with commercially printed guide books; some search for graves, others visit their old haunts. Caroline Scott lets us shadow Harry and Edie on their heartbreaking journey from the Houthulst Forest and Ypres in the north, via Arras and down further south to the point where the French manned the front line trenches of a line that ran from the Belgian coast to Switzerland. Ironically, the answer to the mystery of Francis and the anonymous letter is revealed not on Flanders Fields but far away in the dusty south, in a sun kissed village physically untouched by the carnage, but with a brand new memorial to its missing sons waiting to be unveiled. Wilfred Owen wrote, concerning his work, “The Poetry is in the pity.” Caroline Scott echoes this message. Such was the disconnect between life in the trenches and home that, for many men, returning on leave was not the joyous temporary reprieve from hell that we might imagine: “How could she admit to anyone how difficult she had found it to be with him? That she didn’t know how to speak to him? That she felt some relief when the week ended and he went back? How can she tell anyone how she opened all the windows after he went, and scrubbed the floors, and boiled the bed sheets?” The power and poignancy of this novel will cause it to be spoken of alongside such classics as Covenant With Death, the Regeneration Trilogy and Birdsong. It is available now, and published by Simon & Schuster.

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