Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

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.

Synopsis courtesy of

My Review

5 Stars

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman is a beautifully written novel that moves back and forth in time between modern-day and 1920s-50s Great Britain and Australia, following the lives of Beattie Blaxland and her granddaughter, Emma.  

While the modern-day component of the story is compelling -- after a career ending injury, Emma is forced to rediscover herself -- it is Beattie's narrative that makes this novel shine.  Beattie's story captures the reader's interest right from the opening chapters, when, as a young pregnant woman forced by her mother out of her home, she follows her married lover to Australia to start a new life.   Beattie's life in Australia is anything but ordinary.  While she experiences great joys, Beattie must also deal with tremendous heartache.  Through it all she never gives up and her strength of character and perseverance ultimately lead her to achieve great success in business, an inspiring feat considering she lived in a world still very much dominated by men.  

In almost all aspects, Wildflower Hill is a novel reminiscent of those written by Kate Morton, and I've seen several "If you love Kate Morton, you'll love this..." references to it.   As a huge fan of Kate Morton's works, I think the comparison is valid.   While not as atmospheric as Morton's writing, Freeman's narrative technique, style and themes are similar to those found in Morton's novels.   In addition, like Morton, Freeman has created characters and plot lines that leave the reader eager to keep turning the pages.

In short, I was completely captivated by this novel and had a difficult time putting it down.  Indeed,  Wildflower Hill has earned a place on my list of favourites.   I'm very much looking forward to hearing more from Kimberley Freeman.  

Note: This novel comes from my own personal collection.