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The Poppy & the Rose by Ashlee Cowles
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult > Historical Fiction
Source: NetGalley (thank you NetGalley and 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….
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I love the idea of historical fiction however, I don’t pick it up enough and I’m not really sure why. The Poppy & the Rose not only brought me back to the Titanic (something I’m always fascinated with) but also gave me one of my novel weaknesses: duel timelines.
I’m not going to recap what this book is about, that’s what the summary is for. Though it is hard to remember not to for like word count reasons.
Whatever, anyway, we’re placed in London by Taylor who somehow ended up there just to figure out who some lady in a photo with her father was. Her father passed away btw, and while I get it… I mean I have a ton of questions for my own father who recently passed away; she could had easily I don’t know? Asked a family member? A friend of her dad’s? Like you really went and hopped the pond for that? I’m adventurous but I don’t think I would had went to THAT much of an extreme.
Our second timeline we’re boarding the Titanic with Ava and her father who seems to also be hiding shit from his daughter. See a theme here? Daughters with daddy’s who keep secrets. Daddy’s, DO NOT KEEP SECRETS FROM YOUR DAUGHTER. You think their mama is bad? She ain’t got shit on a curious daughter let me tell you. Parents who don’t provide full transparency get on my nerves; ya’ll always the ones messing up some shit!
Of the two timeline’s I gotta admit, Ava’s was the one I was most invested in. I felt like Taylor’s entire trip just didn’t make sense. She meets up randomly with an older woman named Lady Knight who ends up passing away the day that Taylor is set to have afternoon tea with her. Some of her servants blame Ava… somehow… even though she just met the lady WHO ASKED HER TO COME OVER IN THE FIRST PLACE and she didn’t even know where this manor even was before that day.
So you spend the book wondering who killed Lady Knight? Who IS Lady Knight? And does Lady Knight know Taylor’s dang daddy or not? And how the hell does this have anything to do with Ava? Well it does. But when all of this is revealed, you should had seen how flat my face fell. Like that’s it? That’s the big secret? It wasn’t the big reveal I was hoping for, or that I had assumed it was going in the direction of, but it definitely reminded me that even though I think MY family has problems (both sides are obsessed with money and so on and so on), there are some families who are just manipulative for fun.
Back to Ava; there were so many different characters and stories and potential endings… I wanted to know where Ava ended up later. I mean it’s lightly covered but I wanted to know KNOW what her life after the Titanic looked like. There was a huge twist I didn’t see coming when it came to Ava and it had something to do with the bigger part of what drove her. My heart broke when her dad decided to slap her with reality. Loss is hard for everyone but I think her dad was 100% selfish.
If Ava ever gets a spin off novel or if we get a peak inside the life of Lady Knight after Titanic, I’m so here for it all.