Poplar Hill is a lovely book, part memoire, part fiction, carefully and quietly written. Set in Nova Scotia, Canada, just before the millennium, it beautifully conveys a time and a place and a small town culture of friendships and loyalties.
The book focuses on Kitty, a local celebrity of sorts, who is approaching the end of her life, and recalling her youth, as an American ‘society girl’ caught up in Germany at the slow start of the second world war in Europe. Her very personal and vivid memories provide an unusual and striking perspective on the often-told stories of that time, and I found myself won over by the continuity of character from the bold, self-possessed girl in the stories to the still vibrant old lady now dying in her adopted country, amongst old friends.
As a commentary of its time, the book also depicts the complicated and professionalised business of an old person dying of natural causes in North America – multiple changes of care settings, blood transfusions, intensive care, invasive tests and monitoring – against an affectionate counterpoint of older traditions, of friendship, unburdening of old secrets and keeping vigil. This is a book well worth reading. Enjoy.