Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

4 Star

Emma, a prima ballerina in London, is at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. Forced to rest and take stock of her life, she finds that she's mistaken fame and achievement for love and fulfillment. Returning home to Australia, she learns of her grandmother Beattie's death and a strange inheritance: a sheep station in isolated rural Australia. Certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden, Emma prepares to leave for Wildflower Hill to sell the estate. 

Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma's heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.

Lydia - 4 Star

Although I found Wildflower Hill had a bit of a slow to start, once immersed, I looked forward to seeing what would unfold. A story about starting over that skips a generation and binds a young woman and her grandmother, this novel is steeped in family secrets, bold women and familial love. 

Unconventional, determined and decidedly stubborn, Beattie made for a fascinating character as she was undoubtedly different from many in her time. I couldn’t wait to see how her story would end and grew frustrated when the story flipped back to Emma, but then I would get into her present day story and get upset when going back to Beattie, only to remember how much I wanted to find out what would happen with her in the first place!  Thankfully the flips between narratives were relatively infrequent, which was a pleasant surprise! 

Both women intrigued me. I wasn’t sure about either at first as both seemed quite self absorbed initially, but over time as I grew to know the characters and seeing their decisions and changes, I grew to love each of them. I enjoyed watching them learn and grow from their various predicaments and particularly enjoyed the differences spawning the decades separating their story lines. 

I loved storyline of Emma and Mina. It brought a tear to my eye towards the end and I almost threw the book across the room at one of Emma’s more ridiculous decisions, of which there are a few.  I cared for all the characters, even the secondary ones, who were well drawn and just as enjoyable as the main characters. 

I haven’t read many novels with an Australian setting and would definitely be interested in reading more of them. Not having traveled there (yet!), I loved getting the sense of the land and area, both decades ago and in the present day. 

I will definitely be on the look out for more from Kimberley Freeman!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

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