Review Title: WWI Loves and Losses from a Woman Journalist’s Viewpoint (review of A Poppy in Remembrance by Michelle Ule)
Reviewer: Janice S. Garey
***** 5 Stars
Michelle Ule has written a page turning account of a lady who prepared to be a journalist at a time when ladies did not consider such possibilities. Set during WWI, the novel is fascinating with its accurate historical details of prominent people and places of the time. The tragedies of WWI are not glossed over, but expect no graphic violence in the book. The reader is left to their imagination for scenes of wartime brutality. However, the results of the aches felt by those losing loved ones to the war are touchingly portrayed.
The main character, Claire Meacham, finds herself needed to prepare articles to help her father in his journalist position as wartime correspondent. Over the years she acquired skills and kept putting herself in the right place at the right time to hopefully break through traditional barriers that kept women out of important positions in journalism. Her diligence and tenacity paid off.
A love story develops as Claire is pursued to be a romantic partner, and she is not sure how she truly feels about her admirer whose values don’t mesh well with her own. She has two strong examples of true married love which she observes in her parents relationship and in the spiritual and eternal union in the Oswald and Biddy Chambers marriage.
A rich history of the Bible Training College and the ministry of Oswald Chambers during WWI makes the story worth reading for that alone, but so much more awaits the reader who follows the well developed characters through the reporting of the war.
Lawrence of Arabia makes an appearance in the book to draw in readers who are not as familiar with much of WWI history. Seeing the war from the journalist’s point of view and being privy to behind the scenes restrictions as to what they can and can not report adds fascination and engagement for the reader. Censoring supposedly helped with security and morale.
This story would be a perfect read for anyone interested in WWI, or for those wanting wartime love stories, and for those wanting to see behind the scenes of the ministry of Oswald Chambers. It is also a great revealing of the difficulties of women who desired to break in to the male dominated careers such as journalism during that time period. Rich character development, a well paced plot, foreign settings, and believable struggles of those deciding whether the Christian life and faith is to be surrendered to makes this book a joy to read.