The Poppy and the Rose by Ashlee Cowles ~ 322 pages ~ published on 10/6/2020 by Owl Hollow
1912: Ava Knight, a teen heiress, boards the Titanic to escape the shadow of her unstable mother and to fulfill her dream of becoming a photographer in New York. During the journey she meets three people who will change her life: a handsome sailor, a soldier in the secret Black Hand society that will trigger World War I, and a woman with clairvoyant abilities. When disaster strikes the ship, family betrayals come to light.
2010: When Taylor Romano arrives in Oxford for a summer journalism program, something feels off. Not only is she greeted by a young, Rolls Royce-driving chauffeur, but he invites her to tea with Lady Mae Knight of Meadowbrook Manor, an old house with a cursed history going back to the days of Henry VIII. Lady Knight seems to know a strange amount about Taylor and her family problems, but before Taylor can learn more, the elderly woman dies, leaving as the only clue an old diary. With the help of the diary, a brooding chauffeur, and some historical sleuthing, Taylor must uncover the link between Ava’s past and her own….
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
If I see that a book revolves around the Titanic, I am pretty much immediately on board. In addition to the absolutely beautiful cover, the plot synopsis was what drew me to this book. I have been a giant Titanic nerd since I was a very young child (before the movie came out, by the way. I am a Titanic nerd of the highest order 😉 ). I get inordinately excited when I discover any new fiction revolving around the tragedy.
The dual timeline in this novel was quite intriguing. At first, I really had no idea how the two tied together. This is fairly unusual in historical fiction, in my experience. It took a while, but the storylines gradually wove together in such a way that was quite gripping and which I ended up enjoying.
Something that surprised me about this novel was that I was more interested in the modern storyline at the beginning of the book. Taylor’s investigation into the reasons why Lady Knight wanted to speak with her before her untimely demise drew me in more than Ava’s story. I think part of this was because, at the beginning of the book, Ava was quite the entitled brat. It really turned me off to be quite honest. I was a bit concerned that this would carry on throughout the novel, but I am glad to say that her character had quite a bit of growth as the story carried on.
I enjoyed learning more about the various historical figures and historical movements that Cowles talks about in the novel. I had never heard of the Black Hand (a Serbian military society), and knew very little about the spiritualism movement that was popular in the early 1900s. The addition of these elements gave the story some extra layers beyond your traditional Titanic historical fiction novel.
The romances that colored each storyline added just enough warmth to the story. I liked that they were not the main focus. Each of the main characters went on a journey of self-discovery, finding out who they were and what was most important in their lives. The romances were a side note that just brought a bit of color to a somber set of events.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a fun historical mystery. The eventual tying together of ends was very satisfying. I had a bit of a hard time liking one of the main characters, which is what brought my rating down a bit. Despite this, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, especially about the Titanic.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
I gave The Poppy and the Rose 3.5 STARS!
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Are you interested in all things Titanic? Are you a historical fiction fan? How do you feel about books with two timelines? Let’s chat in the comments!
Love and happy reading,