Tuesday, March 04, 2014
REVIEW: Poppy by Mary Hooper
As this story begins, the war has just begun and our main character, Poppy, is a parlourmaid for a wealthy family, the de Veres. She's a clever girl and was accepted into her local college to continue her education but because her family couldn't afford it she was forced into a serving position. She's sort of accepted this as her role in life and has no further ambitions until she receives an offer from a former teacher who is willing to supplement Poppy's income if she were to take on a volunteer nursing position to help out with the war effort. It's a generous offer, but also a really huge undertaking for Poppy who is unsure how she will react to the horrors of war and the demands of being a nurse. The thing that initially seems to be holding Poppy back is the seemingly mutual affection between herself and Freddie de Vere the youngest son of the family to whom she is employed. But when Freddie enlists, Poppy also decides to take a chance and become a volunteer nurse.
I really loved the easy and engaging writing style of Mary Hooper. I was very quickly swept into Poppy's story and her struggles. I loved the rich detail of England in WWI. There's quite a bit in this book about how much pressure all the young men are put under to be brave and patriotic and rush off to war eagerly. There was a rather uncomfortable bit at the beginning about presenting white feathers to men who have not enlisted that made my stomach clench. And even further on, when Poppy meets a soldier with shell shock and has an obvious distaste for being a soldier and does not want to do his part in the war, despite all of the things Poppy has seen, she is still shocked.
I really loved witnessing Poppy's experiences with being a nurse in a Southampton hospital and seeing the many different injuries and soldiers' experiences from a 15 year old who enlisted, soldiers with missing limbs and disfigured faces. And I also enjoyed reading of the people who have cared for these soldiers and the different ways that everyone contributed to the war effort. From the nursing staff, women working in factories, donating food and clothing and vehicles and their own homes. It was really fascinating to read how very different things became during wartime.
I didn't know when I first began Poppy that this is only half the story - the sequel, Poppy in the Field, is scheduled to be published in May of 2015. I think this story ended on a suitably intriguing place and I'm quite excited to see what will become of our Poppy - how she gets on with her nursing, and with the war and definitely with her romantic adventures!