Wildflower Hill is a lush historical romance that doesn't have the mushiness of so many romances. This well written novel moves back and forth between granddaughter and grandmother. The sections about present day Emma, a prima ballerina in the beginning of the book, is predictable but enjoyable. The sections about Beattie, a young, pregnant English girl, are rich and full of love and dismay, courage and sorrow, daring and independence. Her story moves from her nineteenth year through her maturity and timely death.
The backgrounds, first of London with its buzz and grayness, then, of a small farm community of Tasmania, are vibrant and realistic. Noticeable are the different qualities of rain in each community—London being oppressive and the countryside of Tasmania at the bottom of the world being nurturing. The contrast continues within Emma's emotions as she travels from one country to the other.
Freeman does a fine job developing not only her main characters but her minor ones as well. She gives us an authentic feel for both London and Tasmanian society in the 1930's. Tillie Harrow, the small town storekeeper, for instance, represents the prejudices of the time while being a strong if unsympathetic example. Henry, a major character through the novel, Beattie's lover and father of Lucy, is believable as a weak, most often kind gentleman.
Wildflower Hill is a lovely read, difficult to put down, once begun.
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Kimberley Freeman grew up in Brisbane, Australia. She has won many awards for her writing and teaches at the University of Queensland. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and two children. Visit her website.
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