Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Beattie is a young woman living in Glasgow in 1929 with dreams of designing clothes for a living. Her family is already struggling to makes ends meet, so Beattie is horrified when she discovers she is pregnant with her married lover’s child. Henry is shocked and needs time to think, but Beattie doesn’t have time after she loses her job and is thrown out of her family home by her disappointed mother. Without Henry, Beattie has nowhere to go and no means to support herself, let alone a baby, and so she makes the decision to give her baby away.
Beattie’s granddaughter, Emma, has wanted to be a ballerina since she was a little girl and through hard work and determination, she has carved a successful career for herself. She has everything she has ever wanted – performing all over the world while living in London with the boyfriend she loves. However, she loses everything in quick succession. Josh leaves her after she fails to commit and continues to place her dancing career above everything else including their relationship, and then the worst happens. Emma tumbles down a set of stairs and damages her knee, putting an end to the career she loves.
Emma returns to her mother in Australia, to the place where she grew up and soon learns she has been left a house in her grandmother’s will. Beattie Blaxland was a rich, successful businesswoman, who was famous for her designs. She owned and ran Wildflower Hill, once a farm producing wool, but now just a deserted house used for storage, the land having been sold off years before. Emma plans to go to the house, clean it up and put it on the market, but the job is much tougher than she imagined. The house is full of boxes, packed with memories and secrets of her grandmother’s past. As Emma begins the task of clearing the house, she begins to uncover who the real Beattie Blaxland was.
Wildflower Hill is set both in the present day and the past and tells Beattie’s story as her granddaughter begins to uncover her secret life before she settled down with Emma’s grandfather to begin their family. Beattie’s tale is very touching, even heart breaking in places. She arrives in Australia where she plans to start a new life, but struggles with poverty and a drunken partner who has left them in severe debt and with seemingly no way out. However Beattie is a strong woman. She doesn’t sit back and let these things happen to her. She moves on to improve her life, finding employment as a maid at Wildflower Hill. Beattie has many experiences while at the farm. She forms strong friendships and begins a passionate, loving relationship, but she also suffers a great deal too.
I was moved by Beattie’s tale as tragedy struck time and again and feared what her future had in store for her. Her story kept me turning the pages, eager to discover her fate. I absolutely loved Wildflower Hill and found it difficult to put down. It was an emotional read, full of tragedy and pain, but also love, strength and endurance. I admired Beattie and her ability to go on despite everything that life had thrown at her and didn’t want her story to end.