Jessica Hart’s happy childhood as the daughter of a country blacksmith is changed forever by the sudden death of her mother. Her grief-stricken father leaves her to cope with her loss alone.
It is her manipulative new stepmother who tried to force her into marrying an older man. To bright, pretty Jess the idea of a loveless marriage is unthinkable and so she escapes to Birmingham and her aunt Olive – the last remaining connection to her mother.
But it soon becomes apparent that in the shadows of Olive’s family there are haunting secrets of which no on will speak. And Jess’s security is threatened when she falls passionately in love. For handsome Ned Green is not only already married, but about to become a father any day…
Annie Murray’s uplifting saga set during the Great War is a moving story of love, remembrance and ultimately of healing.
I called this book Poppy Day because the name is so familiar to all of us even now as a symbol of loss and remembrance. I had never thought about it until I began the research, but the first actual ‘Poppy Day’ was not until 11th November 1921, three years after the war ended. I wanted to write about the First World War again, as I had done in Orphan of Angel Street, but not about the soldiers and battlefields. I thought about all the people at home, having to cope with loss and grief on such a massive scale, something which also did not end in 1918. One of the ways people coped was by trying to communicate with the dead, who still felt very present.
But this is a story about losses of another kind – the loss of Olive’s mother to the family through one tragic incident. Only at the end of the story do we find out exactly what happened to her and how she had to make a new life, cut off from her past.
Jess herself, the heroine, is a country girl originally, who has come into the city to find work, much as I did myself! She is young and innocent and falls for the first man who comes along – who is of course, married. So the story is also about falling for the wrong person and keeping on kidding yourself that it will turn out all right in the end…