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 returns home to Australia. She learns of a strange inheritance: a sheep station in rural Australia.
The inheritance came from her grandmother, Beattie. 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.
My Experience with Wildflower Hill:
I bought this book by Kimberley Freeman on a whim. I’d never heard of it or the author. I was at the supermarket picking up what I hoped would be the last package of diapers since I was hoping to potty train my toddler. While there I did a quick scan of the books for sale. My eyes landed on the novel Wildflower Hill. I’m not sure if it was the cover with its pretty old stone house on a field of endless green, purple and yellow that sold me, the greatly discounted price or my great love for stories about women of different generations learning from each other and inspiring each other.
As I said, this was about the time that I started potty training. I take great pride in my ability to tackle a challenge. Naturally, I decided that the week my husband would be away on a business trip and my mother was visiting family, I would start potty training. I figured plenty of single moms out there have to do it – why can’t I? The only problem is, when it comes to children I am a newbie at everything. I mean, I had my son at age 33 and his was the first diaper I ever changed. And, I’ve never had a dog, so I’ve never had to teach any living being how to control their bladder and bowel. Aside from some trusty books and websites (since I refused to tell friends because I didn’t want to deal with continuous updates), I was on my own. It was the most frustrating experience of my life. And, if it hadn’t been for Wildflower Hill, I might not have survived.
Every night of that week I would put my beautiful little boy to bed and would feel completely defeated. During the day I sang, danced, gave stickers and pretty much threw parties when he used the potty – which wasn’t often at the beginning. I comforted and said “It’s okay, we had an accident,” when he didn’t – and accidents there were aplenty. I was prepared for accidents. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of being completely inept. I cringed, feeling that in some way it was my fault for not bringing him to the potty sooner. So, each night, once my son was sound asleep, I curled up in bed with Wildflower Hill and let Kimberly Freeman take me away.
The easy style of her narrative sucked me in. The story of a woman named Emma finding herself in modern times by sifting through her grandmother’s country home and personal belongings is not necessarily a new one. Yet, once you get past the cliche, it is an entertaining and moving story. Freeman takes us through each story in the present tense. I loved reading Beattie’s story and actually preferred it to Emma’s. I have to admit, I was quite stand-offish with this novel when I started reading. I wasn’t at all convinced that I would like this cheap book about some girl who gets pregnant in pre-world war II Scotland. But, Freeman slowly convinced me and drew me in until I found myself craving to know more about the many challenges Beattie faced and how she found the strength to overcome them. I loved her character, her strength and audacity in doing everything she had to to take care of her daughter. As any mother would with her child. As I would during potty training.
I started taking Wildflower Hill into the washroom with me as I waited for my son to do his business. Actually, as per my toddler’s preferences, I had to wait just outside the washroom, but still in view. He wanted a little privacy after all. I read and he pottied. Or, for the times I would find him hiding behind the couch smiling mischeviously because he had forgotten to go, I would clean him up, and then read to feel better.
A few days into our little adventure, my mother returned from her time away. She missed her grandson so much she came directly to our home to spend the day with him. It was fabulous to have my mom back. She brought with her a level of relaxation that I envy. I wish I could be as calm as her in my everyday life. She shared stories of her experiences with my brother and I, and instantly made me feel better. The stress melted away. I knew that this was going to take a while and only my ease would ease my toddler through this. Thank goodness for my mother.
I finished reading Wildflower Hill. I savoured Beattie’s story and rushed through Emma’s – I don’t know why, but I just liked Beattie’s story better. I do wish it was a mother-daughter tale, though. I was put off by the fact that Beattie did not have the same connection with Emma’s mother as she did with Emma. Nonetheless, as is usual with a book I’ve enjoyed I was a little sad to see it end. Potty training was also nearly complete and I was very, very happy to see that part of parenting through. Ultimately, I learned that regardless of how much I love doing things on my own, it is always nice to have help or, at the very least, guidance from a knowledgeable source. Perhaps the reason I feel so connected to themes of matrilineal descent is because it is such a prominent theme in my own life. Maybe that’s why I thoroughly enjoyed reading the “typical” story of Wildflower Hill. Because no matter how much we’d love to think we can do anything on our own, it just makes sense to take in the wisdom of those who have walked the same path before us.