Book Review: WILDFLOWER HILL by Kimberley Freeman

10002296
Publisher: Touchstone
Released: August 23, 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher

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.
Wildflower Hill is a compelling, atmospheric, and romantic novel about taking risks, starting again, and believing in yourself. It’s about finding out what you really want and discovering that the answer might be not at all what you’d expect.

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Wildflower Hill is a poignant tale of two women living in different decades but whose lives are strongly intertwined. I dearly loved this book! The story of Beattie and her granddaughter Emma was completely absorbing. Beattie was a Scottish immigrant who moved to Tasmania, Australia, at the start of the Great Depression. Someone had told her once that “there are two types of women in the world…those who do things, and those who have things done to them.” As a poor, unwed mother, she kept that thought in the forefront of her mind as she struggled against poverty and prejudice. Against insurmountable odds, she became the owner of a prosperous sheep farm in rural Tasmania, though it was not without great hardship and heartache.

Set in 2009, Emma’s story is effortlessly woven in with Beattie’s. Emma is a prima ballerina in London. Proud of her success as a dancer, she didn’t realize how it had totally consumed her life until a knee injury put an end to her career. Left with no other options, she returns home to Sydney. Emma is told that she has inherited a farm in Tasmania that her grandmother ran in the 1930s. Beattie had not been there for many years and used the place for storage, so Emma decides to head south to clean out the place in order to sell it. Upon arrival Emma finds boxes and boxes full of Beattie’s old possessions, including letters, photos and business records. As Emma sorts through everything, she slowly uncovers family secrets buried for decades.

I have not been moved by a book quite so much in a very long time. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style, including the rich descriptions of the settings. It was easy to picture myself there too. Wildflower Hill stirred up many emotions for me – heartache, joy, anger, and frustration. Ultimately it is a very inspirational story about the power of perseverance and realizing what is truly important in life. Both Beattie and Emma were strong female characters written in a way that I felt like I was sharing their experiences with them. I loved how important parts of the story were told through old-fashioned letters. The last letter written by Beattie that Emma finds had me sobbing. The ending was bittersweet and very satisfying. I would highly recommend Wildflower Hill to fans of women’s fiction. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Rating: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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