Poppy Shakespeare – Book Review | Emily K

Hello! How are you? As the majority of you are around my age, I’m guessing this is a busy time where you too have been blessed with the re-appearance of the horror that is school. I sincerely hope it is going well :D. I’ve just started sixth form, and so far it is GREAT. SO much better than lower school!

It’s time for yet another book review! I’m actually really enjoying writing these, a lot more than I thought I would, so I’m sure there’s many more to come (sorry if you hate books and reading and blogging altogether – if you do, there’s no need for you to be here hahahaha)img_8067.jpg

TITLE: Poppy Shakespeare
Clare Allan
Psychological fiction

Goodreads Book Description:

When Poppy Shakespeare walks into the Dorothy Fish Day Hospital in her six-inch skirt & 12-inch heels, she is certain she isn’t mentally ill & is desperate to return to her life outside. Together with another patient, Poppy plots to gain freedom. But in a world where everything’s upside-down, is she crazy enough to upset the system?

My Thoughts:

To quote Tiffany, from Goodreads, “This book has a really interesting look into the mental health system, a notoriously underfunded and misunderstood sector of health care.” Told from N’s point of view, the story bases itself around the surprising arrival of Poppy Shakespeare, while showing the impact of a failing mental health system on society. I have to say, I liked this book – to some extent. I liked the message it was trying to convey, and the way it conveyed it, hence the 4 stars. I wasn’t left astounded, or in awe, but I was definitely satisfied, and I learned a lot.


The plot of this book I thought was interesting. Completely focused on the arrival of Poppy Shakespeare, added to by snippets of N’s thoughts from her life, it served to be like a journal of N’s thoughts, documented in engaging chapters as if N was speaking aloud. I thought everything included was indeed relevant to the storyline and the focus, and if not, it served to bring the characters more to life.

The twist at the end was brilliantly and elegantly pulled off too. I wouldn’t say it was completely unexpected – I knew pretty much the whole way through that something had to be revealed, or happen, at the end of the novel. I could feel the unexplained present. And we had unanswered questions. However, I wasn’t expecting what came. Not in the slightest. And it served to make us question our society further, boosting my rating even more.


Normally I find I become emotionally attached to the characters very quickly. I’m the type of person who always looks for the good in someone, so I usually trust the characters in the book, and liken to them instantly. However, with N, I found it took a while. The disjointed prose in which Allan writes meant I felt distant from her, confused by her character and her seemingly mystifying past. Once I’d learned more about her and got to grips with the story, the style of writing I realised was necessary. It added to N’s personality, as we felt we were reading her thoughts, allowing us to experience the disjointedness of the mental health system (with many similarities and parallels to our own) through her disjointed language.

One thing I will credit Allan on is the development of her characters. They were all interesting; they could’ve all had novels of their own to tell their complicated life stories – and boy, I’d be so up for Allan to do that. From Middle Class Michael to Astrid to Brian the hand-washer, they were given unique backstories which allowed their characters to flourish. We didn’t find out about all of their pasts, but there was no doubt that they had them. Allan made it obvious in the compelling way she wrote.

To Sum It Up:

Poppy Shakespeare is a novel about mental illness, society, anger and passion. It delivers such an important message about the failures of our own mental health system, and how it can lead to devastating consequences because sometimes it fails to deliver the service necessary. Although the Dorothy Fish Day Hospital is more unusual and the scheming, and abuse of authority (I CAN’T SPOIL I’M SORRY, BUT THE ENDING IS SHOCKING!) by those in charge somewhat mind-boggling, it does relate in many ways to our society. All in all, it’s a very interesting read, and one I would recommend if you’re looking for something a bit lighter.

I hope you enjoyed this! I enjoyed reading and reviewing it very, very much.

I’ll be back again soon (I’m getting almost as bed as outros and I am at intros, I do apologise aghh) with another post!

Love, Em x

TWITTER: @emkburke
EMAIL: emilykblog@outlook.com


4 thoughts on “Poppy Shakespeare – Book Review | Emily K

  1. We studied this on the first week of Year 10, I miss Year 7 so much 😭 I hate GCSEs they’ll be the death of me (GCSEs are British exams in Year 11 which determine whether or not u get into college in case u aren’t British)


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