Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in Seneca County; although she maintains contact with certain friends and family, too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniel’s she maintains nearby. Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce. Gradually, Beatrice finds her resolute independence and crusty reserve soften, her carefully constructed barriers fall, and her guarded and self-protective nature moderates, as she explores the renewed pleasures of emotional involvement. At times sad, at times hilarious, and always quirky, Hillwilla celebrates the glories of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, the healing power derived from genuine connections with others, and the potential for reinventing ourselves—at any age.
My Review of Hillwilla
Hillwilla by Melanie Forde is the story of Beatrice Desmond, an eccentric 55 year old woman who despite humble beginnings became an Ivy League graduate and now works as an editor and translator on a farm in rural West Virginia. Despite her accomplishments Beatrice relishes her contented quiet life in Seneca County with just the company of her faithful dog Ralph and a variety of contrary llamas she attends to daily. But Beatrice’s’ private life is about to change as Tanner, her handsome neighbor, not only asks her assistance in writing his autobiography, but also to assist a wayward, maltreated teen by the name of Clara. Independent and private, Beatrice feels aggrieved by the situation and at first is stubborn and disgruntled. But with the passage of time Beatrice sees something of herself in Clara and the once self-reliant and headstrong Beatrice finds herself softening towards the girl. Sometimes touching, sometimes jocular, Hillwilla has something for everyone who enjoys a heartwarming and uniquely different story.
This is not the usual type of story I read, but I felt intrigued by the novel’s description. Hillwilla was agreeable as it had quaint old fashioned characters. It took a little while for me to get into the rhythm of the book, but its characters were creative and I enjoyed watching them grow and develop. As a reader if you like stories that have unconventional and engrossing characters Hillwilla may just be the novel for you.
I want to thank Mountain Lake Press via NetGalley for a free advanced copy of Hillwilla by Melanie Forde for a fair and honest review.
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