Review: Wildflower Hill, Kimberley Freeman

| 6 December , 2010 | Reply

Kristy McCormick

I am a big fan of the ‘sweeping saga\’ type of novel. The sort that spans generations and countries, that involves a terrific story alongside rich history. And this is one of those books.

Wildflower Hill is the third novel from Kimberley Freeman. It is the story of two women – Beattie Blaxland, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant to her married lover at the age of 19. It is Glasgow, 1929, and she finds herself with few options – certainly not the life she dreamt of, a life working in fashion. Without the support of her family, Beattie finds herself inextricably linked to the father of her child and together they plan their future, uncertain as it may be.

Fast forward to 2009, and Emma Blaxland-Hunter is living her dream. A prima ballerina with the London Ballet, her life is everything she has ever wanted. But when it all comes crashing down, she realises that what she has is not worth so much after all.

An unexpected bequest from her grandmother finds Emma travelling to Wildflower Hill, the property in rural Tasmania her grandmother owned but had not visited for years prior to her death. Emma decides to travel to the property alone, telling herself that it is only to sort through possessions her grandmother had left behind, while still believing that she will return to the ballet she loves.

The novel tells the stories of Beattie and Emma separately – a short prologue the only part of the novel where the two main characters are together, but which sets the scene for what follows. Beattie\’s story is by far the more compelling – as she struggles to find a life for herself and her daughter, travelling from Glasgow to Tasmania and eventually finding success in her own right, she faces uphill battles at every turn.

Emma, too, has worked hard to be a success – but at a cost. As her career as a prima ballerina falls apart she realises she has little else in her life, until this connection to her grandmother leads her to discover long buried secrets about her family and a will to rebuild her life in a more meaningful way.

As the book progresses we learn more about each of these women\’s lives and in particular the story of Wildflower Hill – a Tasmanian sheep farm that shaped both of their lives. It is a fabulous story and as a long time fan of both Paullina Simons and Belinda Alexandra, I wish that I had discovered Kimberley Freeman sooner – because if you enjoy the books from either of those authors, you can be sure you\’ll love this one.

Available now: Hachette RRP$32.99

Kristy

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