A Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI Fiction of the Great War by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove, and Jay Lewis Taylor
Publisher: Manifold Press
Length: Full Length (247 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War
Ten authors – in thirteen stories – explore the experiences of GLBTQI people during World War I. In what ways were their lives the same as or different from those of other people?
A London pub, an English village, a shell-hole on the Front, the outskirts of Thai Nguyen city, a ship in heavy weather off Zeebrugge, a civilian internment camp … Loves and griefs that must remain unspoken, unexpected freedoms, the tensions between individuality and duty, and every now and then the relief of recognition. You’ll find both heartaches and joys in this astonishing range of thought-provoking stories.
They say that tough times bring out a person’s true colors. If this is true, I want to meet all of these characters.
Skip ahead and read “War Life” first. It followed a brother who enlisted in the war effort as well as the older sister he left behind at home. They both had introspective personalities that work well with this subject matter. I was especially interested in seeing how similarly these siblings described the world around them despite living in radically different environments at the moment. It left me me yearning for more and could easily have been expanded into a full-length novel!
There were a few contributions that I would have liked to see expanded into something a little longer so that the character in the would have had more time to grow. All of them were good stories that I deeply enjoyed reading, they simply needed some additional attention. “A Rooted Sorrow” was a good example of this. It involved a woman’s adjustment to life after the war, although there were several other characters competing for the spotlight in the plot. All of the background information about them was interesting, but it took me quite a while to figure out who was actually the protagonist. This might have worked better as a longer work so that more time could be spent exploring the relationships between everyone in what sounded like an incredibly warm and close-knit community.
“The Man Left Behind” showed how Henry’s life changed as a result of the war. He wasn’t allowed to fight in it, so he had to find another way to contribute. This was yet another tale that I was sad to see end. Henry was so well written that I desperately wanted to see what happened to him during the rest of his life. His personality burst through the plot he’d been given in the best way possible. While I don’t know if the author is planning on releasing a sequel, I’d be thrilled to read it if she does.
A Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI Fiction of the Great War is a beautiful collection that I’d recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest in World War I or GLBTQI fiction.