Scholarly review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We were delighted to see a very thorough review by Marie Ramsland of our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES in the ISAA Review volume 15 number 2 of 2016. This came about because the anthology’s editor, Julie Bozza, is still a member of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (ISAA) despite her years of living in the UK.

We felt the review was worth sharing with you in full, though please be warned that some of the following remarks about story arcs are spoilers.


Review by Marie Ramsland

For a long time, homosexuality was heavily punished. Often withdrawal from society was the only safeguard. Yet male camaraderie during the war was encouraged by military authorities, encouraging male bonding. Most of the time this was platonic; sometimes more intimate relationships were experienced. Silence or denial is generally no longer needed for such emotions. Therefore, with the centenary of the Great War well underway, this special anthology is a welcome contribution. The stories deal with the impact of war not only in the battle arenas, but also at home, for women and men, parents, siblings and friends. The hurdles the protagonists have to overcome to realise ‘happiness’ or even some sort of individual fulfilment are set up by contemporary social mores supported strongly by religious beliefs. Credibility is enhanced by real locations and lived experience.

Each story offers something special, revealing human weaknesses and strengths that unite us all, creating equilibrium from dichotomy. They reveal aspects of not belonging to the conventionally accepted norm indicated by the anthology’s titles. Three stories stand out for their depth of characterisation: ‘Inside’ by Eleanor Musgrove; ‘A Rooted Sorrow’ by Adam Fitzroy; and Barry Brennessel’s ‘Anh Sang’.

Readers are taken ‘Inside’ Alexandra Palace in north London set up as an internment camp for Germans, Austrians and Hungarians on British soil, citizens and visitors. Life is hard for all, more for the homosexual: ‘… you have to snatch your tender moments when you can … I hope, after the war, things will be easier’.

Fitzroy’s story is set in an English village where attitudes are imbedded in daily life, but love proves stronger than convention. It deals with strong relationships – mother/son, lovers – and the healing power of memory. The powerful narrative, enriched by including several contemporary issues, compels the reader’s attention.

Set in Indochina, ‘Anh Sang’ shows how the French colonisers treated their subjects daily. Fifty thousand Indochinese served in France with heavy casualties. The protagonist avoids enlistment, while his lover is imprisoned but freed during an uprising. They stay together – in hiding, hoping for a better future.

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Manifold Press paperbacks

The Press doesn’t issue paperback editions of all our titles, as the decision to do so is driven by the individual authors. That being said, we’re delighted with the twenty titles that have made it into print thus far! There are new ones on the way, so it seemed to be a good time to take stock of what we have so far.

A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!
A veritable rainbow of books from Manifold Press!

Our current paperback titles are listed here, along with Amazon US buy links:

The Apothecary's Garden paperback coverAlways With Us by Morgan Cheshire

The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza

Between Now and Then by Adam Fitzroy

Butterfly Hunter (#1) by Julie Bozza

Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2) by Julie Bozza

The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

The Butterfly Hunter Trilogy (incorporating all three novels plus the free short story Like Leaves to a Tree) by Julie Bozza

Dear Mister President by Adam Fitzroy

Make Do and Mend paperback coverThe Definitive Albert J. Sterne (incorporating the novel and the stories published separately in the eBook Albert J. Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect) by Julie Bozza

Ghost Station by Adam Fitzroy

Homosapien … a fantasy about pro wrestling by Julie Bozza

Make Do and Mend by Adam Fitzroy

Mitch Rebecki Gets a Life by Julie Bozza

A Pride of Poppies Modern LGBTQIA Fiction of the Great War – anthology including stories by Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, Sam Evans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove and Jay Lewis Taylor

A Pride of Poppies - paperback coverRavages by R.A. Padmos

Solemn Contract by Morgan Cheshire

Stage Whispers by Adam Fitzroy

A Threefold Cord by Julie Bozza

The ‘True Love’ Solution by Julie Bozza

The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Julie Bozza

We hope you’ll enjoy these paperback editions and – like us! – are looking forward to more titles coming soon.

A PRIDE OF POPPIES, among other things

WWI anthology cover FINAL 200pxAs many of you would know, because we haven’t stopped talking about it in quite some while, our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES was short-listed for the Historical Novel Society (HNS) Indie Award 2016. We are unbearably proud about being one of nine titles on the short list!

We recently received the news, however, that we haven’t progressed further. From the nine on the short list, four finalists were chosen by the judges. We are assured that the decision ‘was VERY close!’ which is a mighty fine compliment indeed.

We wish the remaining finalists well in the lead-up to the announcement of the winner and runner-up in September. Whichever titles are announced, we know it will be a well-earned honour.

RAVAGES - 200pxMeanwhile, our giveaway for a paperback copy of RAVAGES is still running. The volume will be signed by author R.A. Padmos and shipped anywhere in the world. We’ll need to close the giveaway within the next couple of days, however, so please do enter! After reading the recent glowing review of her novel IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOME, I am sure you’ll feel it worthwhile to chance your luck.

Saturday Historical Novelist Interview re A PRIDE OF POPPIES

WWI anthology cover FINAL 200pxThe historical author Christoph Fischer reviewed our WWI charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES for the Historical Novel Society, and we are absolutely chuffed that the title has since been shortlisted for the HNS Indie Award 2016.

Today Christoph has posted an interview with POPPIES editor and author Julie Bozza. If you would like to read more about Julie herself, the Press and the POPPIES project, please follow the link:

Saturday Historical Novelist Interview with Julie Bozza

And thank you very kindly indeed to Christoph for the opportunity!

More kudos for A PRIDE OF POPPIES!

The Manifold Press team certainly has plenty to celebrate on this, the first day of 2016!

It has just been announced that our charity anthology, A PRIDE OF POPPIES, Modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War, has been short-listed for the Historical Novel Society (HNS) Indie Award 2016!

To progress so far in these awards is a terrific achievement for an anthology focusing on characters who have been seen historically as belonging on the fringes of society. It is beyond heartening to know that our stories are welcome to stand on their own merits in the ‘mainstream’ fold.

Congratulations to all the Poppies authors and editors! You’ve done us all proud.

Kudos for A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We have to admit to being rather proud of our charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, which features modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War. So we’ve been tickled pink to find the anthology mentioned in end-of-year dispatches.

Kazza of On Top Down Under reviews listed the anthology as one of her Books of the Year for 2015.

One of the best anthologies I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Every single story is well crafted, well edited, and fascinating. Some stories were so good I’d love to see them longer but there is not one story that misses a beat. … If you like a good LGBT historical, you like queer fiction of a literary quality, then this anthology covers all the letters and is beautifully written. Oh yes, the proceeds of sales go to The Royal British Legion.

(We were also pleased to note that one of the POPPIES contributors, Barry Brennessel, came equal first in Kazza’s list with his SIDEWAYS DOWN THE SKY.)

Meanwhile, the indefatigable Elisa Rolle asked her friends to name their favourite LGBT books of 2015. POPPIES was nominated by not one but two people: Manifold Press stalwart Chris Quinton and POPPIES contributor Charlie Cochrane.

Charlie: At the Gate (Jay Lewis Taylor) … In my reading notes I used one word for it: stunning. It’s the sort of story that made me think, “Well, I might as well give up writing because I could never produce anything this good”. You can almost smell the sea and feel the roll of the ship as you read it.

Chris: Quite apart from the sheer quality of the writing across all the entries, and the eye-catching cover, every one of the stories brought something memorable to the reading. Poignant, gut-wrenching, uplifting, all of them wonderful portrayals of the human spirit, of people not only coping with the ravages of the First World War, but also the difficult life of homosexuals in the early 20th century.

Thank you so much, Kazza, Elisa, Charlie and Chris! We’re delighted that you enjoyed this volume – and we hope that you, Dear Reader, will enjoy it likewise.

Goodreads M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards

We’re honoured to have been nominated in three categories this year!

A PRIDE OF POPPIES

THE PEACOCK’S EYE

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DANCE OF STONE
and
BUTTERFLY HUNTER

Congratulations to all the authors involved – and particularly, this time, to our good friend Jay Lewis Taylor who wrote two of these books and contributed very strongly to the third – and thank you kindly to the person or persons who nominated us; we really appreciate your confidence!

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We don’t usually flag up informal reader reviews on ‘Goodreads’ or other similar sites, simply because there are so many of them and it would be impossible to keep track, but we’ve just been made aware of one which is really too wonderful not to share – so hopefully we can be forgiven just this once!

‘Ije the Devourer of Books’ seems to have consumed the entire anthology in a single sitting – what about sleep? we ask – and to have been delighted with it:

I thought the stories were brilliant in the way they depicted the lives touched by the war, the strength of love and the challenge of hidden love at a time of war. I enjoyed reading these and it is another volume of top quality gay literature from Manifold Press.

We can’t help being thrilled to received such a lovely review. Sometimes the independent publishing world can be a lonely place, but knowing that our books are out there making friends is all the consolation we need; thank you, Ije!

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

Actually, this one isn’t exactly new, it’s one that slipped through the net and was discovered accidentally by our good friend – thank you, mate!

A review by Ace Katzenbooks appeared in the September 2015 issue of The Book Breeze and was subsequently posted online on 23 October:

A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.

Thank you, Ace, we’re very glad to know that you enjoyed the book!

And once more, from the Rainbow Awards …

It’s difficult to know what to say about this – in fact it’s almost impossible to take it in – but yet again we have exciting news from this year’s Rainbow Awards, with this time an Honourable Mention for A PRIDE OF POPPIES, our WW1 anthology!

One of the judges called it:

An excellent anthology of World War 1 stories all told with a remarkable eye for authenticity and a great deal of love and compassion.

This means that seven out of the eight books we entered have now been distinguished in this way, a success rate which has quite frankly blown the very few brain cells we had left! We’re beyond thrilled with this, as you can probably imagine, and we suspect we’re going to be absolutely unbearable on the subject for a while! [We’d do the happy dance, but you really don’t want to see that!]

Our congratulations and thanks go to everyone involved in making A PRIDE OF POPPIES the success it has been – to the authors and the editing team in the first instance, and also of course to the readers. We can all quite justifiably share in the enjoyment of this:

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION