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Wildflower Hill    by Kimberley Freeman order for
Wildflower Hill
by Kimberley Freeman
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

Wildflower Hill follows the lives of two generations of the Blaxland family. Emma Blaxland-Hunter is a workaholic ballerina in London, living the perfect life with the perfect boyfriend, doing the job she always dreamed of. Emma's fairytale life, however, unexpectedly begins to fall apart. When her longtime boyfriend leaves her for his assistant, Emma throws herself into her work. But when an accident injures her knee, Emma's brilliant career as a ballerina is over. With career and boyfriend gone, Emma travels home to Australia where family secrets and a new life await her.

When Emma arrives in Australia, she learns that her Grandmother Beattie included her in her will. Although Beattie was a wealthy woman at the time of her death, she left most of her fortune to various charities, except for a sheep farm named Wildflower Hill. Emma has no desire to live on her grandmother's farm, but she agrees to visit the place to honor her grandmother's memory. At Wildflower Hill, Emma finds evidence that her grandmother lived a secret life before she married Emma's grandfather. But the clues are vague and confusing, and Emma must be willing to accept that her grandmother was not the woman she always believed her to be.

The novel transitions between Emma's narration and Beattie Blaxland's story. That begins when Beattie meets Henry MacConnell, a handsome, married man with a penchant for gambling and drinking. When Beattie becomes pregnant, her family disowns her and leaves her at the mercy of the unhappily married man. Although Henry and Beattie attempt to make a life together, Beattie meets her destiny at Wildflower Hill where she first arrives as a servant. The walls of Wildflower Hill witness Beattie's most cherished memories and her most heartbreaking tragedies. Beattie's brave story and secret sorrows slowly come to light when her granddaughter arrives at the sheep farm that changed Beattie Blaxland's life.

I fell in love with Wildflower Hill from page one. Kimberly Freeman does an exceptional job of telling Beattie Blaxland's story. She develops it slowly, doing an amazing job of making readers feel they have experienced all of Beattie's triumphs and tribulations. I liked how the author tied Beattie's and Emma's stories together. Emma's stay at Wildflower Hill is not just about discovering her grandmother's secret. Instead, Beattie's past helps Emma realize what mistakes she's made and where she wants her life to go.

Wildflower Hill is a novel about loss, inevitable endings, and the promise of new beginnings. Though it is Kimberly Freeman's first piece of women's fiction, the novel reads like the work of a seasoned author. This is one of the best books I've read this year.

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