Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Under the Poppy - Review
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was won as part of the Library thing Early Reviewers Programme. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publishers.
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.
Am a virgin when it comes to novels by Kathe Koja. When i first received my copy of Under the Poppy, i thought that this was Koja's debut. After doing a bit of research (a.k.a google), i found out that the author has written quite a few other books including The Cipher and YA novels such as Budda Boy and Going Under. The most amazing part of my research was finding out that some of the author's books were considered for film or the theater. In fact Under the Poppy (which by the way is being released on November 9th) is one such novel that is being adapted for theater production. If this wasn't an indicator of the author's literary prowess then the rave reviews for her other books certainly tipped me over the edge.
So now that i have set the stage for this novel, let me delve in by saying Under the Poppy is a story unlike anything you have ever read. Its a historical fiction that reads like a drama complete with all of the sophisticated prose reminiscent of Shakespeare. I loved the fact that after reading a sentence i sometimes paused to think about the subliminal messages in it. The setting is 1800s Brussels and while i didn't so much get a feel for the location, i did however enjoy all of the juicy drama that took place within and surrounding The Poppy.
There is a large amount of sex in the story (and it comes with the territory since The Poppy is a unique brothel). Sex between men and women, men and men, men, women and puppets, women and puppets. If you get alarmed at this point, don't. The scenes are all tastefully done and the author sticks to the time period so words that would usually make us blush when said out loud are actually written in code. Puppets are also a huge feature in the story and i found at times they were juxtapose to their human counterparts to show how free will is sometimes flung out the window and we are subsequently at the mercy of other forces.
Readers will really enjoy the characters in this story. Throughout the book you are exposed to several characters who at times play supporting as well as lead roles. The story really develops by way of alternating person views and we get an insight into each character when the author switches to their point of view. I was at a disadvantage with this book since i read it mostly on my way to work and i had to continuously come back to the story. As a result of that i missed out on the effect of really absorbing the story. But i have no doubt that you guys will have a totally differently and favourable experience with Under the Poppy.
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