The Crushed Poppy.

Book Review for “Under the Cover of Mercy” by Rebecca Connolly.

Summary: “The Great War has come to Brussels, and Edith Cavell, Head Nurse at Berkendael Medical Institute, faces an impossible situation. She has sworn an oath to help any who are wounded, under whatever flag they are found. But Governor von Lüttwitz, the ranking German officer, has ordered her and her nurses to also stand guard over the wounded Allied prisoners of war and prevent them from escaping. Edith feels that God called her to be a healer, not a jailer. How can she heal these broken boys, only to see them returned to the hands of their oppressors to be beaten again? So when members of the Belgian resistance, desperate for help, bring two wounded British soldiers to her hospital in secret, she decides she will heal the soldiers, and then help smuggle them out of the hospital to freedom. With her loyal friend and fellow nurse, Lizzie, by her side, Edith establishes her hospital as a safe house for the resistance, laboring tirelessly to save as many soldiers as she can. Working under the watchful eyes of the German army, Edith faces challenging odds as she fights to bring hope to her small corner of a war-torn world.

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Fiction; Settings: Era/s: Historical – WWI; Location/s: Belgium – Brussels; Other Categories: Novel, Biographical, Women, Christian.

Under the Cover of Mercy

Last year, one of my favorite novels was “A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice” by Rebecca Connolly, so when I was offered her newest biographical, women’s, historical fiction novel, I jumped at the chance. Now, I know this review is a tad early, but the publishers were overly generous; they not only sent me the eARC, but also a print, proof copy! Although it takes me longer to read print books, I can more easily get to them than some eARCs, so… it got bumped to the top of my pile, and here you are!

I should start this review by saying that yes, this is Christian fiction, and I usually reject any books that might have religious bents. However, I didn’t know it was Christian fiction when I accepted the above offer, so there’s that. Plus, until I saw it listed like that on Amazon, it actually didn’t occur to me that it was considered to be Christian fiction. Okay, yes, Edith was a devout Christian. But her devotion was just part of her character for me, at least that’s how Connolly wrote her. True, there were some passages with prayers and such that I skimmed over, but again, I’m not sure that makes it Christian fiction, per se. By that I mean that there’s no one proselytizing here, no one preaching about what someone should or shouldn’t believe. In fact, there were no judgements about either believers or non-believers – everyone just had their own faith (or lack thereof), and the work of healing the injured and sick was paramount to anything else.

I did mention skimming above, and often that means that there was something that seemed either repetitive or superfluous to me. That usually means I can’t give full marks to a book. However, in this case, because I didn’t feel like someone was trying to get me to convert, I’ve forgiven Connolly. In fact, I’m almost certain that had those parts not been included (even if I skimmed them), then she wouldn’t have been giving us a true portrait of Edith (I just didn’t feel the need to read every word of those passages). I think that was the main point, and Connolly really did paint Edith as a warm, caring, and generous person, who could not deny her conscience when it told her to defy the German occupiers, and try to help allied soldiers escape Brussels to safety. That’s what made her someone that people could love, and that’s what will make readers love Edith.

I should also say that this book covers a very short period of time, from the early days of the German occupation until Edith’s death. I was a bit worried that this would mean a good deal of padding, but that wasn’t the case, although the pacing of this book felt a bit slower than her previous one. That said, Connolly uses Lizzie, who was Edith’s right hand, to bring us a third person perspective of Edith, that further rounded out Edith as a person, and a character. Obviously, we also needed Lizzie to recount things after Edith’s death, which was when I cried. Yes, that’s right… I cried for Edith and Lizzie and all the others. (Mind you, I cried more with Connolly’s previous book, but still… ) This is why once again, I can’t detract from my 5/5 star rating for this book, and I’ll wholeheartedly recommend it to all lovers of women’s, biographical, historical fiction.


30483411-0-Edelweiss-Reviewer-BShadow Mountain released (will release) “Under the Cover of Mercy” by Rebecca Connolly on April 11, 2023. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks),, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#13), Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (#10).

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13 thoughts on “The Crushed Poppy.

  1. I probably wouldn’t normally consider Christian fiction, but I do like that this one is about Edith Cavell so it might be a exception to the rule.

    Thank you for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neither would I (being Jewish), but despite how much these women prayed, I didn’t feel like it was preachy. I’ve read books that were very preachy (lots of “since I found Jesus” stuff), and that’s very off-putting for me.


  2. Thank you for making me aware of this book and author, Davida. It’s not listed on the public library site here yet, but I’ll keep looking. Like Carol mentioned above, the Kindle edition is surprisingly expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to have been reminded of this author – I recall your previous review and I now see my library owns this book.

    There was a fairly well known juvenile bio of Cavell, Friend Within the Gates, I received for Christmas as a child. Considering how much I like WWII books now, it is surprising that I was not more enthralled by it. However, this sounds well worth reading.


    Liked by 1 person

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