Book Review: Poppy Shakespeare

The one thing about backpacking is the amount of reading you get through. I picked this one up in a book exchange at Rainbow Beach, the gateway to the gorgeous Fraser Island. In my defense, it was this or a random selection of Dutch horror-looking books. There was little choice, so Poppy Shakespeare joined me on my East Coast Australia journey.
Poppy Shakespeare is Clare Allan's debut offering in the literary world. It is a novel about mental health, told from the point of view of N, (who's name rather annoyingly we never learn) a patient at the Dorothy Fish day hospital. Along with the other members of the day hospital N is desperate to keep failing her psychiatric tests in order to remain at the daycare facility, seeing it as a nice easy life. So when the glamourous Poppy Shakespeare rocks up and is desperate to get out of there ASAP, everyone is a tad surprised. The book charts N's journey in trying to help out the seemingly perfectly sane Poppy, but is all as it seems?
As the novel is written from N's point of view, we are treated to a book filled with all the grammar and other errors that presumably N would use were she really writing this book. Chavvy is the first word that springs to mind when describing the language. Just as an example the chapter title of the very first chapter is "How it all begun". Now I am by no means a Grammar Nazi (my blog is probably littered with errors) but this style of writing really pissed me off - excuse the language. I really found it ruined the flow of the book... "Oh there's another grating error" "Ooh look another one" "How many mistakes can there be in this darned sentence?!"
I also felt that the topic of mental health was not handled in the best way. Those with mental health issues were all painted as chain smoking, lazy and with no motive to accept help. And the hospital seen as uncaring, cold and not really helping anyone. 
If I were at home I would have put this book down within the first few chapters and never picked it up again. As it was, I was stuck on a 15 hour bus journey with nothing but a bag full of fatty snacky foods. I had to read on. I would say Poppy Shakespeare is a slight grower, once you get used to the language used it is an OK read. The ending was not predictable, but then I didn't really know what to expect in the first place. I would maybe go as far to say the last few chapters were the best part of the book. 

Final Remarks
 Would I rave about this book? Probably not. If you are more of a hardcore reader, this style would probably be very interesting. If you find grammar mistakes annoying, don't touch this book with a barge pole. My travel buddy and I would swap books when finished, needless to say she didn't read this one!

What are you reading at the moment? Have you ever read Poppy Shakespeare?
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  1. This is a really interesting review. I do find grammar/spelling errors annoying but I LOVED Poppy Shakespeare. I think it was just wonderfully told and I thought both N and Poppy were so well developed. The TV dramatisation is pretty good too :).

    It's interesting to see how opinions differ!

    1. I did not know there was a TV adaption! Have just found it on 4od so will be watching that tomorrow! It definitely is interesting how different people think things such as books are :)

    2. It is, I felt the grammar problems were intentional and they helps N feel more...believable but then I might be one of those hardcore readers you talk about hehe! I hope you enjoy the programme!

  2. From how you've described the story, it sounds like something I'd really love but I could NOT cope with all those errors! My eyes would be constantly drawn to them and as you said, ruin the flow of the story. Really interesting review :) xx

    1. Thanks :) The errors did ruin it for me, but you do get used to them as the book goes on. Maybe give it a try. As Beth above says some people really love it! You could be one :) x


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