The Poppy Factory

At its heart, The Poppy Factory is a love story, and about how love can help to heal the devastating wounds – both physical and mental – that warfare can cause. But it is also a tribute to the extraordinary courage of serving soldiers through the ages. We may not always agree with the premise of war, but you can never deny the incredible courage and dedication of those in our armed forces.

I had the idea for the theme of the novel after being moved by the solemn Remembrance Sunday ceremonies held in my home town, the garrison town of Colchester in Essex.  And I was intrigued to learn that the remembrance poppy, one of the most powerful symbols of the twentieth century, was actually initiated by two women: an American and a Frenchwoman, both of whom were inspired by the famous poem In Flanders Fields. It was then the brainchild of a WW1 veteran, Major George Howson, to set up the Poppy Factory in London to employ disabled servicemen, and which is still going strong today.

When I started finding out more about the work of The Poppy Factory and discovered that although they still make millions of poppies each year, they also help disabled veterans back in to work in many other jobs all over the country,  I knew that as well as the WW1 theme I would have to bring the story up to date.

So the novel tells the parallel stories of two soldiers returning from wars a hundred years apart, and the difficulties faced by them and their families. One is a woman army medic who served on the front line in Afghanistan and the other is an infantry soldier returning from the trenches of World War One.

There has been much debate recently about whether British women soldiers should be allowed to serve on the front line, as in other countries. But some women already do: not as fighters, but as medics. Through my local contacts I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a remarkable young woman army medic who put her own life at risk to save numbers of lives. She later received the Queen’s Commendation for her bravery.

Of course my character Jess is nothing like her in real life, but I could not have written the novel without her help.

You can find out more about the work of The Poppy Factory here.


10 thoughts on “The Poppy Factory”

  1. Donna Cormier said:

    Where can I find other books by Liz Ternow?

    • Dear Donna
      You don’t say where you are living, but I would always advocate trying to buy from a local bookshop if you can. You may have to order my other novels, The Last Telegram and The Forgotten Seamstress, but they are still widely available in the UK, US and other countries and your bookshop should be able to get hold of them. Make sure you get my name right: Liz Trenow (not Ternow). Alternatively you could ask your local library, or buy from an online bookshop such as Amazon. Just type in Liz Trenow and the name of the book and you should get quite a wide choice of online bookshops.
      Best wishes and happy reading
      Liz Trenow

  2. Kay Sumner said:

    Just read “The Last Telegram” and “The Forgotten Seamstress”…..I am now 76 years old and reading has forever been my passion; I want to tell you how much I enjoyed both books and am currently trying to find “The Poppy Factory”. Thanks for your excellent writing!!!!

  3. Will there be a 2nd book as the story about Jess was so moving and it was sad the book ended without knowing if she managed to turn her life around again

    • Hi Tanja
      Thanks for getting in touch (from Denmark, I think? One of my favourite countries!) I’m sorry to say I doubt there will be a second book of The Poppy Factory. But you can take heart from the fact that Jess decided to get back in touch with Jake, on the last page. I am sure they’ll get together again and she will get her life back on track.
      With best wishes

  4. Thank you very much for you reply . I really did enjoy the book . Very well written .

  5. ann spinks said:

    Just read The Poppy Factory which I really enjoyed specially the juxtaposition of the Great War with recent events. My grandfather was in WW1 so the story was poignan for met; he died of the Spanish flu a week after Armistice and has a war grave in Lincolnshire.

    I was wondering if nylons were available in 1919 (ref page141)? I was confused re reference to Alice “the one who lost her lover in the trenches… (page348) is this a reference to WW11 as if she was born in 1920s she couldn’t have lost her lover in the WW1 trenches? On her return from the Remembrance parade (p371) Jess’s “train passed a village cricket match” – cricket is usually a summer game or am I misreading the passages?
    Kind regards

    • Dear Ann
      Thanks for getting in touch and I am so glad you enjoyed The Poppy Factory. You make some interesting points.
      Best wishes, Liz

  6. Kaitlin Hardwick said:

    Dear Mrs. Trenow, we are doing a National History Day project on the Poppy Factory and its effect on the history of the acceptance of PTSD. We were wondering if you had heard of April Foreman. If so, what research of hers may you have used while writing your book? We are also planning on portraying you in our performance and would like your permission. If you have any additional resources that we could use for our project please email us at
    Thank you,
    Kaitlin Hardwick and Regen Wells, students at Fort Scott Middle School

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