The Poppy and The Rose by Ashlee Cowles

by | Feb 7, 2021 | General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Genre

General Fiction / Historical Fiction / Young Adult

Audience

Highschool & Up

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2020

Themes

Trust, Family, Relationships, Pride, Psychology, Memory, Titanic, England, Oxford  

Reviewed by

M.S. Ocampo

This novel is a tale of two young women: Taylor Romano, who is studying abroad in modern-day Oxford, England and Ava Knight, an heiress and aspiring photographer who is travelling with her father on the Titanic. Yes, that Titanic. What exactly connects these two together? This is the mystery that Taylor has to solve along with the mysterious death of Ava Knight’s descendant. The story alternates between Taylor’s modern day mystery and flash backs covering Ava’s days on the Titanic.

Read an Interview with the Author Here

While aboard on the grand ship, Ava Knight is asked by a Serbian solder to spy on the passengers in hopes of getting information that could potentially stop (or start) a world war. Those who know their history will remember that World War I started in 1914, two years after the Titanic sank, but the signs of political unrest are already starting to show on the ship.   

One thing that Taylor and Ava have in common is that it’s hard for them to trust people, especially when someone breaks that trust. Both struggle with trusting their respective fathers because they seem to be hiding something. Taylor’s father acted strangely before his death and her worst fear is that he had an affair. Ava also suspects her father of having an affair with one or more of the passengers on the TItanic. Taylor has trouble trusting the dead Lady Maebeline Knight’s companions, since they were the only ones who were around when the Lady died. In turn, Lady Knight’s butler doesn’t trust Taylor since she is a stranger to him. 

Subscribe to Our FREE Email & Get Weekly Catholic Books for as little as $1

There’s a stark contrast between Taylor’s story and Ava’s. Taylor interacts with just a few people: Lady Knight’s butler, a young boy who chauffers for Lady Knight, and a few people in her college program. Ava, on the other hand, gets to meet a colorful cast of characters aboard the Titanic such as the clairvoyant Galena Lakovic, Lieutenant Plavsic from the Serbian Army, Seaman Caleb Donahue, and even a Jesuit priest. There are also some characters from the actual history of Titanic such as Mrs. Margaret Brown who people might also know as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and Bruce Ismay, the chairman and managing director who is a self-proclaimed social Darwinist. The ironic thing about Ismay is that while he ends up surviving the sinking of the Titanic, his life afterwards was one of depression and solitude.  

Much like the famous James Cameron movie, there’s a stark contrast between the upper class and the lower class and Ava finds herself somewhere between them. She and her father have upper class tickets, but Ava develops a romance with the lower-class sailor Donahue. Her photography hobby is another way that she interacts with the lower-class passengers, as there are scenes of her taking pictures of people on the deck or around the ship.   

Subscribe to Our FREE Email & Get Weekly Catholic Books for as little as $1

I recommend this novel for fans of Gothic mysteries such as Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre. The Catholic themes are a lot more subtle. The Jesuit priest character, while based on a real person, doesn’t stick around long, but he mentions Divine Providence and a greater narrative than what ordinary people can see. I think the major themes in this book are pride and trust. The upper-class characters (Plavsic and Ismay) state ideas of social upheaval and survival of the fittest, but their arrogant ideas are harshly reflected by the devastation at what was to come for them. In turn, Taylor and Ava both learn that while their suspicions can uncover harsh truths, putting trust in good people can help them cope. 

Subscribe

Subscribe to Catholic Reads to get access to Catholic Literature from 50% off to FREE

The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney

A Catholic “To Kill a Mockingbird” if there ever was one.

Standing Strong by Theresa Linden

Keefe hides his call to the priesthood and no matter how much Jarrett tries he still gets into trouble. Can the brothers find their courage?

Dying for Revenge by Barbara Golder

After her husband’s murder Dr. Jane Wallace moves to Colorado to nurse her grudge against the world and ends up tracking a serial assassin.

McCracken and the Lost Lady by Mark Adderley

McCracken gives us the grounded swashbuckling Catholic hero that our inner child has always wanted.

A Fisher of Women: The Tale of the Forgotten Healer of Galilee by Catherine Magia

Before she and husband were Saints, Peter and his wife struggled just to heal themselves

Where to Begin with C.S. Lewis

When he was four years old, C. S. Lewis renamed himself Jack and refused to answer to Clive Staples. For the rest of his life, he was Jack to his friends.

Revelation by Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor takes us into the mental experience of one of those people Jesus condemned.

Big in Heaven by Fr. Stephen Siniari

In this inner-city Orthodox parish, there are no easy answers—only the transformative power of God’s love.

The Poppy and The Rose by Ashlee Cowles

While abroad in England, Taylor discovers a mystery linking her to an heiress and passenger aboard The Titanic.

King of the Shattered Glass by Susan Joy Bellavance

An orphan maid braves the wrath of the King when she breaks his precious glassware but realizes true beauty of forgiveness and broken glass.

Murder in the Vatican by Ann Margaret Lewis

Sherlock Holmes teams up with Pope Leo XXIII to solve crimes in the Holy City.

Defend the Tabernacle by Deacon Patrick Augustin Jones

Catherine and Bernard get whisked away to do battle on the Soulscape, where the true nature of things is revealed.

The Wind That Shakes The Corn: Memoirs of a Scots Irish Woman by Kaye Park Hinckley

Sold into slavery on her wedding night, an 18th-century Irishwoman struggles to free herself from her thirst for vengeance.

Where to begin with Dorothy L. Sayers?

A Detective novelist who believes in conscience, and in the reality of redemption.

Finding Grace by Laura Pearl

Amidst the Free-love Women’s-lib culture of the 70’s how can one young girl find her path to sainthood?

From the Shadows by Jacqueline Brown

In a broken world, Bria tries to unite a family even as she struggles to keep hope alive.

The Vines of Mars by A.R.K. Watson

While tracking down his sister’s murderer, a Martian farmer discovers a secret that may destroy his colony.

Roland West Loner by Theresa Linden

When his evil brothers lock Roland up in a dungeon he finds a locked box hiding a mysterious treasure.

All in Good Time by Carolyn Astfalk

A truly healthy romance that will STILL leave you up at night

Books for Lent

Deepen your Lenten reflection with these stories of repentance and forgiveness