Under the Poppy

Under the Poppy

A Novel

Book - 2010
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From a wartime brothel to the intricate high society of 1870s Brussels, Under the Poppy is a breakout novel of childhood friends, a love triangle, puppetmasters, and reluctant spies.

Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert, but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war. Hearts are broken when old betrayals and new alliances--not just their own--take shape, as the townsmen seek refuge from the onslaught of history by watching the girls of the Poppy cavort onstage with Istvan's naughty puppets . . .

Under the Poppy is a vivid, sexy, historical novel that zips along like the best guilty pleasure.

Nominated for the IMPAC Award. Winner of the Gaylactic Spectrum Award.

Kathe Koja 's (underthepoppy.com) books include The Cipher , Skin , and Extremities ; her young adult novels include Buddha Boy , Talk , Kissing the Bee , and Headlong . Her work has been honored by the ALA, the ASPCA, and with the Bram Stoker Award. Her books have been published in seven languages and optioned for film. She's a Detroit native and lives in the area with her husband, artist Rick Lieder, and their cats. Under the Poppy is currently being adapted for the stage.

Publisher: Easthampton, MA : Small Beer Press ; [Minneapolis, Minn.] : Distributed to the trade by Consortium, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781931520706
Characteristics: 360 p. ; 24 cm


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Jan 30, 2018

I loved this book! It was gripping, suspenseful, surreal, emotional, tragic, romantic, and sometimes heartbreaking with characters that had so much depth to them they felt real. I especially enjoyed how the narrative moved between the various characters since it allowed me to feel better connected to them as the story progressed. To avoid any spoilers I will not discuss the plot itself, but I will say that this book is definitely worth the read. Rupert and Istvan's relationship alone makes it worth it. The only thing that kept me from giving it five stars was the writing style. This was a much more challenging read than most. While adept at inhabiting the voices of her characters, Koja’s narrative style was often muddled and confusing. However, there is a fair share of gorgeous prose and an adept method of crafting enthralling scenes as well. I would suggest paying close attention to the names of the characters (Istvan especially has many monikers). All in all, this is a fine example of historical fiction and I look forward to reading it again someday.


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