Monday, December 9, 2013

Wildflower Hill

Title: Wildflower Hill by Kimberly Freeman
ISBN-13: 978-1451623499
Pages: 544
     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.
Alright I admit it's been a while...a long while.  But I have an excuse (not really) but I've been finishing this book as well as balancing school all at the same time.  And I have to say, I'm really glad I stuck this book out, I mean this is a pretty thick book and sometimes I put down the book because it's just so longwinded and just...ughh...But this one was a different case.  It was one of the books I picked up at the book sale at my library marked down from an original price of 16 dollars to 25 cents! Go me :D Keep in mind though that this book is written by an Australian author so some phrases are not familiar to us Americans. But the fact that I found this book at a secondhand book sale is amazing, just goes to show how books are revealed to you for a special purpose in mind.

Onto the story, what drew me in at first was the fact that one of the main characters was a dancer who had a career-ending injury, which always intrigues me because usually dancers are very careful to take care of their bodies knowing their career itself is bound to be short because one is only at their peak performance level at a certain age, so they take special care not to shorten that dancing lifespan any further.  I loved how the author played off of the different events happening in both the character's lives by switching back and forth between perspectives so you can see the parallels between their lives.  Although Emma's effort is admirable and is indeed a main character, anyone reading the book can tell that the true main character is Beattie, her grandmother. 

Her grandmother is the heroine in this book.  The book starts with her grandmother being shunned from her community in 1920s Scotland even being disowned by her parents and left out to fend for herself because she is pregnant out of wedlock with the father, a married man at that.
I know right...SCANDALOUS...So this married man takes and they escape to the wild Australia in Tasmania where she raises this child.  But the thing is about this man, is that he is a gambler, and a drinker...perfect combination right?  So she escapes and finds refuge at this woman's house, only to be rejected once again because she is working for this 'sinful' man in town who is known to *ahem* host female guests at night.  Sighs...judgemental people, if only they knew it was the only job she was offered.  Once again she leaves and in very strange circumstances, is given a huge sheep farm.  She works it back up to peak condition with the help of a previous chauffeur and an Aboriginal man who had helped save her daughter back when she was escaping from her daughter's father.

Now her daughter, Lucy, you might ask.  What happened to her? She is gradually taken away from her mother because her father and his actual wife have deemed it necessary to raise her up in a Christian household away from 'sinful' people (like the Aboriginal man, racist society...) And Beattie is completely heartbroken to know with each visit, Lucy, is drawing further and further away from her until finally the visits stop because they have moved away from Australia.

Okay, there has to be something good with all of this right? She falls in love with this Aboriginal man despite what the community thinks about a black man and a white woman being together.  "Love conquers all" right?....but then he this very tragic incident involving the drunk townspeople.  I wanted to cry when I heard this, I mean could life really get any worse for Beattie? So she leaves Wildflower Hill, the sheep farm, with a tree planted in memory of Charlie, Aboriginal man.  Aww how cute :)

I really liked how the book spanned three generations with the granddaughter finding out the various events that happened to her grandmother that made her grandmother who she is, and the grandmother actually living out the events.  It shows how the way you react to events in your lives can still affect those beyond your generation.  Though these events at the time may cause heartache and pain, they define who are and who we become...

So the coat became much more than a coat; it became a potent symbol of her desire for him.  At night, after he had gone to bed, Beattie stayed up and worked on it, hand-stitching the lining and the pockets.  As she sewed, Beattie allowed herself to imagine the moment that she gave it to him.  Each stitch became alive with the knowledge that she was falling in love with him.  She sewed that love into the coat. (pg 334)

     Footsteps inside.  Somebody was coming.  Please let it be her.
     The door opened.  An elderly woman stood there.  Her hair was mostly gray, but there was still a touch of ginger through it.
     "Can I help you?" she said kindly.
     When she smiled, I almost lost my nerve: echoes of my grandmother.  The world held its breath for a moment.
     Then I bravely pulled out the letter and offered it to her.  "This is for you," I said.  "It's been on its way for a long, long time." (pg 524)
4 out of 5 stars

~Excited for my own future


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