Wildflower Hill

Wildflower Hill

by Kimberley Freeman


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Hailed by bestselling author Kate Morton as “a gorgeous story of family and secrets and the redemptive power of love,” Wildflower Hill is s compelling and romantic novel spanning three generations and half the world, from modern day London to Australia in the 1930s.

Emma is a prima ballerina in London and at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. When she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death, and her own strange inheritance—an isolated sheep station in rural Australia—Emma is certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden. But when she returns to Australia, forced to rest her body and confront her life, she realizes that she had been using fame as a substitute for love and fulfillment.

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, and she wanted to make sure Emma’s heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.

Wildflower Hill is a compelling, atmospheric, and romantic novel about taking risks, starting again, and believing in yourself. It’s about finding out what you really want and discovering that the answer might be not at all what you’d expect.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451623499
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 08/23/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 416,619
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kimberley Freeman was born in London and grew up in Brisbane, Australia. She is the bestselling author of Wildflower Hill and Lighthouse Bay and teaches critical and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She lives in Brisbane with an assortment of children and pets. Visit her website at KimberleyFreeman.com.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Wildflower Hill includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Kim Wilkins. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Wildflower Hill is told as a dual narrative, one following Beattie Blaxland as a young woman in the 1920s, the other following her granddaughter Emma Blaxland-Hunter in modern day. The two women’s stories become intertwined across the decades when Emma gradually uncovers her grandmother’s history after inheriting her sheep farm in isolated Tasmania.

In 1920s Scotland, Beattie Blaxland became pregnant by her married lover Henry just before her nineteenth birthday. Abandoned by her family, Beattie and Henry set sail for a new life in Australia. After a tumultuous and trying course of events, Beattie manages to secure a Tasmanian estate, run a successful sheep farm, and later establishes a highly successful woman’s wear business.

In modern day, after an injury ends her dancing career and her boyfriend breaks her heart, Emma leaves London and returns home to Australia to recuperate. There, she discovers she has inherited her beloved grandmother’s Tasmanian sheep farm, Wildflower Hill. Through cleaning out her grandmother’s house and sorting through her belongings, Emma discovers secrets about her grandmother’s past and begins to reevaluate her own life and priorities.


1. Which story did you enjoy reading more, Emma’s or Beattie’s? How did you relate to both of them?

2. Early in the novel, Beattie’s friend Cora tells her: “There are two types of women in the world, Beattie, those who do things and those who have things done to them” (p. 31). How does Beattie adopt this motto throughout her life? Does Emma live by the same credo? Do you agree with Cora’s theory about women?

3. How did you feel when Margaret went behind Beattie’s back to let Henry see Lucy? How do you feel about Mary, Henry, and Molly’s determination to “keep Lucy away from sin”? Is this just a selfish excuse to keep Lucy away from Beattie?

4. Discuss how religion is treated in the novel. Being a good Christian is emphasized by characters such as Mary, Henry, and Molly, but Lucy feels closer to God when she prays privately, and Beattie seems to feel more in tune with the land. Talk about each character’s concept of God and “good vs. evil.”

5. Beattie remarks that it doesn’t matter how she earns money, as long as she can feed her child: “Children can’t eat morals” (p. 135). Do you agree? Do you think Beattie did the right thing working for Raphael and serving drinks illegally?

6. Discuss the poker game that leads to Beattie’s ownership of Wildflower Hill. Why does Beattie come up with such a risky proposal? Why does Raphael agree to it?

7. Beattie often blames herself for letting Lucy be taken away. Did she do the right thing by relinquishing more and more control to Henry? Should she have filed for sole custody? What is more important, for a child to have contact with both of her parents or to be raised in the most stable, “proper” way possible?

8. Compare and contrast Beattie’s relationships—with Henry, Charlie, and Ray. Do you think Beattie should have told Ray about her former relationships? How do you think he would have reacted?

9. How do you think Beattie would have reacted if she knew Charlie’s death was actually a murder? Do you think Leo was right to keep the truth from her?

10. Why do you think Beattie kept every record from her past at Wildflower Hill? Was it as Emma muses, that she was clinging to every scrap, or do you have a different theory?

11. The setting of the book is described beautifully, through the vivid description of Wildflower Hill and its contrast to the city of London. What was your favorite scene?

12. How does Emma’s sense of identity, priorities, and relationships change throughout the novel? What event impacts her the most? Compare and contrast her transformation with Beattie’s.

13. Discuss Mina’s father’s reluctance to see Mina perform. Do you understand his embarrassment? Why does Patrick refuse to get involved?

14. Emma decides to finally visit Lucy and deliver her grandmother’s letter, even though her grandmother never intended to send it. How do you think Lucy will receive her? What do you envision happening after the close of the novel?


1. Do a little research on Tasmania to help envision the setting of Wildflower Hill. Visit http://www.discovertasmania.com/about_tasmania for information, maps, and photographs. To take a virtual tour, visit http://tourtasmania.com/.

2. Visit Kim Wilkins’ blog at http://fantasticthoughts.wordpress.com/ and read her thoughts on the writing process, her many novels, daily life, and more!

3. Before her injury, Emma was a prima ballerina. Go to the ballet with your book club and see the dance that Emma dedicated her life to.

4. Emma is greatly impacted by her involvement with Mina and the rest of the Hollyhock dancers. Watch a video about the Adaptive Dance Program, a dance class for children with Down syndrome founded by Children’s Hospital Boston and the Boston Ballet in 2002 at http://www.childrenshospital.org/patientsfamilies/videos/Adaptive_Dance_Final.mov.


You’ve written many acclaimed books in the fantasy and horror genres. What made you decide to branch into women’s fiction? How does writing in these genres differ? Do you have a preference?

I had written a lot of books very close together, basing them on mythology and history, and I was a little burned out. Also, I felt I had said all I had to say in that genre for the time being. So I sat with my agent on her couch and we were talking about the books we used to love in the 80s, like Lace and A Woman of Substance, and she said, “Why don’t you write something like that for a change?” I loved the idea of doing something fresh and different.

What made you decide to use the pen name of Kimberley Freeman on some of your books and your real name, Kim Wilkins, for others?

I used the pen name because I didn’t think there was much cross-over between the readerships. Freeman is my grandmother’s maiden name, but “Kim Freeman” sounded it like it could be a man. So I made it Kimberley. It’s very strange to walk into a bookshop and have the staff call me Kimberley though.

Tell us about the research that went into writing Wildflower Hill. What inspired you to set it in Tasmania? Do you have any experience with ballet?

I did ballet as a small child and I was just terrible at it. I was a blue fairy at the end of year concert, and somehow ended up on the side of the stage with the pink fairies and never really recovered from the shame. But I read a lot of ballet books and I still enjoy watching ballet. I decided to set the book in Tasmania because it’s such a wild, breathtaking place. And it’s right down there at the bottom of the world, tucked away, out of sight, and so underappreciated! Apart from that, I had to do a lot of historical research, but I always enjoy that aspect of my work immensely.

We never hear from Cora again after Beattie leaves Scotland. What do you think happened to her? What kind of life did she end up living?

I imagine she would have had a privileged life with few worries, financially anyway. I think it says in the book that she has a baby, and Beattie is jealous at the idea of the life of ease she might have. But of course, money doesn’t guarantee happiness.

The original title of the novel was Field of Clouds. What was the origin of that title, and why did it change to Wildflower Hill?

I called it Field of Clouds because when I was down in Tasmania researching (in the middle of winter) there was one day on the farm that the fog simply didn’t lift, and it felt like the fields were full of clouds rather than crops. But the name of the farm was always Wildflower Hill and we thought it was a much more vibrant, inviting title.

You mention on your blog that you struggled at times through the writing process of Wildflower Hill. Was this book more difficult than your others? How do you overcome obstacles such as writer’s block?

I struggle with every single book. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to write them! Every book is difficult, every book has unique challenges that I have to find unique solutions to. But I am just psychologically better equipped to deal with them because I’ve written so many now (21 including children’s books). So writer’s block doesn’t present as a big problem for me. I know that there’s only one way around it, and that’s to think a bit more, then write a bit more, and chip away at it slowly. Then I’m back in the swing and off again. But yes, I do sometimes moan about how hard it all is on my blog.

Gambling plays quite an important role in Beattie’s life. Did you have to do any kind of research or are you familiar with cards yourself?

No, but my dad was a gambler so I was well aware of how much one can win or lose. As for the card game that plays an important part in the plot, I had to get a couple of friends who are mathematicians to work out how much should be bet at each stage to achieve the right result. I am pretty bad at math.

You have created two very different protagonists with Emma and Beattie. What made you decide to tell the story through their alternating viewpoints? Did you enjoy writing for one woman more than the other? Whom do you identify with most?

I loved them both so much. I loved how prickly and self-absorbed Emma was and how she slowly softened and found out what was really important. I do identify with her (being a sometimes prickly and self-absorbed person!). But Beattie had my heart. No matter how much life beat her down, she just kept getting up. She had a strong moral compass and an unbreakable spirit.

Wildflower Hill has been enthusiastically received in Australia. How do you think it will translate to an American audience?

I am so pleased and proud to be sharing the book with the US. I really hope that my characters connect with your readers, and that the parts set in Australia will be interesting to them. At its heart, Wildflower Hill is a simple story about a woman who didn’t know a big secret about her grandmother, and I think that’s a story that can relate to any audience.

The ending of the novel leaves the reader wondering what happens next. Any plans for a sequel? What do you think happens after Lucy opens the door to Emma?

I have no doubt Lucy would welcome her with open arms. Age makes people wise, and Lucy would definitely want to know her family. So, no plans for a sequel. I had one reader over here who was so distressed that I didn’t say exactly what happened, that I opened her book and handwrote the last line, “And Lucy took Emma inside and loved her to pieces.” So, yes, that’s what I think happened next.

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Wildflower Hill 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
bookofsecrets More than 1 year ago
Wildflower Hill is a poignant tale of two women living in different decades but whose lives are strongly intertwined. I dearly loved this book! The story of Beattie and her granddaughter Emma was completely absorbing. Beattie was a Scottish immigrant who moved to Tasmania, Australia, at the start of the Great Depression. Someone had told her once that "there are two types of women in the world...those who do things, and those who have things done to them." As a poor, unwed mother, she kept that thought in the forefront of her mind as she struggled against poverty and prejudice. Against insurmountable odds, she became the owner of a prosperous sheep farm in rural Tasmania, though it was not without great hardship and heartache. Set in 2009, Emma's story is effortlessly woven in with Beattie's. Emma is a prima ballerina in London. Proud of her success as a dancer, she didn't realize how it had totally consumed her life until a knee injury put an end to her career. Left with no other options, she returns home to Sydney. Emma is told that she has inherited a farm in Tasmania that her grandmother ran in the 1930s. Beattie had not been there for many years and used the place for storage, so Emma decides to head south to clean out the place in order to sell it. Upon arrival Emma finds boxes and boxes full of Beattie's old possessions, including letters, photos and business records. As Emma sorts through everything, she slowly uncovers family secrets buried for decades. I have not been moved by a book quite so much in a very long time. I really enjoyed the author's writing style, including the rich descriptions of the settings. It was easy to picture myself there too. Wildflower Hill stirred up many emotions for me - heartache, joy, anger, and frustration. Ultimately it is a very inspirational story about the power of perseverance and realizing what is truly important in life. Both Beattie and Emma were strong female characters written in a way that I felt like I was sharing their experiences with them. I loved how important parts of the story were told through old-fashioned letters. The last letter written by Beattie that Emma finds had me sobbing. The ending was bittersweet and very satisfying. I would highly recommend Wildflower Hill to fans of women's fiction. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time.
Ravenswood_Reviews More than 1 year ago
"WILDFLOWER HILL" BY KIMBERLEY FREEMAN This transitional time novel was spellbinding. Told from the viewpoints of a grandmother and her granddaughter the secrets they both share are astounding. Coming into her grandmother's inheritance and trying to decide what to do with it, Emma finds herself learning a lot about the woman and her life. A novel chock full of mystery, and the magic of a land Emma's only just discovering. This novel is beautiful and timeless. -Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1989 Sydney, Beattie Blaxland watches her eleven year old granddaughter Emma Blaxland-Hunter dance with euphoria. Afterward, Beattle sadly muses to her beloved Emma that success is not everything. In 2009, prima donna Emma's dance career ends in London at about the same time her relationship with Josh when the doctors declare her knee to brittle to handle the physical demands of dance. Her mom asks her to come home, which she does. She has inherited Wildflower Hall from her late grandma. She plans to sell the place until she finds a photograph of her grandma with an unknown child. Unable to resist Emma investigates her family tree. In 1929 Glasgow, Beattie's dreams end when she realizes she is carrying her married lover Henry MacConnell's child. Beattie and Henry flee to Tasmania where he deserts her. Supporting her daughter as a single mom, Beattie obtains work at Wildflower Hill sheep farm. This is a fascinating family drama refreshingly enhanced by local vernacular that has the reader feeling they are in Australia. The story line is very narrowly linear past and present as the audience will figure out the mystery before Beattie does. Still the fun in this tale resides in the complicated two women who bring grit and charm as they reinvent themselves through love and hate; as for the sandwiched generation, she is more an enabler and not on the same developed levels as her mom and daughter. Fans of epic family dramas will enjoy this fine Australian saga. Harriet Klausner
annieWISC More than 1 year ago
The separate stories of two women in their young adult years weave together the generations of a grandmother and her granddaughter. Their lives could not have begun more differently but the author takes you through the journey that led them both to Wildflower Hill. The grandmother's story seems the most compelling. She overcomes great odds to carve a life for herself and her illegitimate daughter but is prevented from seeing her daughter through to adulthood. The over riding emotion throughout the story is love, in all its many forms. The book is perfect for a women's book club selection.
txbookaddict More than 1 year ago
This was a pick of our book club, and one of my absolute favorites. Discovering family secrets, the Australian wilderness, transitions between the early 20th century and the present, characters you love and some you want to throttle, WILDFLOWER HILL has it all. Great discussion in our book club, and everyone agreed it was a terrific read. A must-read for those who love historical fiction of early 20th century life. Great for those who love discovering the souls of the characters, and the events that shape their lives and their families.
the-PageTurner More than 1 year ago
I can not tell enough people about how wonderful this book is. Set in London and Austrilia it is a family saga the is so heartfelt. The story of a young woman in 2009 and her grandmother . It is so beautifully writen that some of the lines will haunt me. It is sad, but in a rather bittersweet way. I do not know how I heard of this book as it is not a blockbuster-front of the store book. But the writing and story line are not to be missed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll admit i was hesitant to read this book after reading an overview of the plot, but i read it anyways and I sure do not regret it. After the first few pages, I was captivated by the novel and would spend any free time reading it. It's very well written and has one of the best storylines. I must say though, i was slightly more interested in Beattie's side of the story, but both sides were very interesting. This book is a must~read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful read, one of the best in a while. I loved this book and found it hard to put down.
Kasia1021 More than 1 year ago
I won this on Goodreads. I really enjoyed reading this story and getting to uncover the layers of the characters. My favorite character was the grandmother, Beattie, who had more secrets than a person should ever have, and my least favorite character was the granddaughter, Emma, who I just couldn't like for the life of me. She was arrogant, pompous, and so self-centered that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't "get" her. As the story unfolds and details of events are revealed, Emma's character starts to thaw, making her more human in my eyes. The book changes perspectives as well as eras of time, but that made it all the more enchanting to me. The only thing I didn't like was the ending...see for yourself! One book I won't soon forget.
alc2792 More than 1 year ago
I had been looking for a simple love story while browsing the shelves at my local B&N, when I came across this book. Being that I had just watched 'The Yellow Handkerchief' (both the Japanese and American remake), I wanted only to read a book that captured that sort of love. A story without all of the near death experiences, Mary Jane characters, and all other useless filler. When I found Wildflower Hill, it's summery led me to purchasing the book. I'm thankful that I did, because the book was so much more than I could have imagined. With two separate main characters who are intertwined through blood the book is mainly set in two different time periods. The story unfolds to show how Grandmother Beattie had a hidden past and her granddaughter, Emma, is suffering from an end to her lifelong dream and loss of her beloved boyfriend. The fact that this book incorporates a few of my favorite things such as ballet, Australia, and cute boys didn't hurt. Kim Freeman is a wonderful writer with even better content who is capable of pulling on your heartstrings. I read the book in two days and honestly wish now that I had spanned it out over a week or so; I wish it didn't have to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you fix the typos when you put it on the internet?
gargaux More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend 
new-hampshire-reader More than 1 year ago
A nice, if somewhat predictable, love story. I enjoyed reading it. This would be a great summer beach read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful and delightful story.
TurningThePagesBlog More than 1 year ago
So when I found this book in one of the used bookstores I've always visiting for $2.95 in mint condition I had to by it and I had even completely forgotten that it had been on my Goodreads TBR shelf for almost 6 months. I really had no intention of reading it the other day but I've been having a problem with focusing on my books so I picked it up on a whim and before I knew it I was 100 pages in and then of course life got in the way just as the book was really starting to go somewhere. By the time I was able to pick it up again it was around 10 p.m.. I finished it by 2 a.m. I just couldn't put it down. The book was actually a lot different than I thought it would be. I knew going into it just by reading the summary that the book was a sort of family saga but I wasn't expecting it to be quite like this one and I mean that in the best of ways. I became very attached to Beattie's (Emma's grandmother) character. In fact she turned out to be my favourite character over all in the book. Her resilience, determination and spirit were what made me love her character so much. Despite the twisted life that fate handed her she was able to rise above it. I loved how the book too us from the streets of Glasgow to halfway across the world in Tasmania on Beattie's journey. The evolution of her character throughout the book seemed so real. She went from being a victim of circumstance to taking charge of her life even when she had to face the cruelest of heartbreaks. Throughout the novel I felt as if I were there along side Beattie watching her grow and change, deal with happiness and extreme sadness and every time something horrible happened to her I would sort of feel my own heart breaking with hers. However, on the other hand of the spectrum is Emma. Beatti's prima ballerina granddaughter. I wasn't exceptionally fond of her character because Emma is one of those women who has to have everything about them. You know the type, those who when life finally catches up to them and they have to be like the rest of us mortal women turns inward and just whines. Yep, that's Emma. The thing is though eventually Emma gets past a lot of her selfish tendencies and she turns a new leaf and suddenly...when you're reading her parts of the book you start to like her a little more because you can see a bit of the gumption that aided her grandmother so much in her life shine through in her. As you can probably guess I really loved this book. I haven't read a book that makes my heart physically ache for the characters in some time. It was wonderful that Kimberley Freeman had such talent that she was able to draw me into the book in such a way that it was as if I was experiencing every ounce of emotion in her book. I for one cannot wait to add more books by this author to my collection. If you're looking for a novel to transport you to a different time and place this is the one for you. The way that the author was able to construct such an authentic tale of life in Tasmania in the early 1930's for Beattie's part of the novel was amazing and the fact that the book switched from hers to Emma's point of view so seamlessly made this an amazingly moving read. If you want something that makes you think, make your heartbreak and then build it back up again I highly suggest trying this novel. It's one that I will never forget and one that I plan on reading over and over again. If you love historical fiction please give this a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of all time. The audio version is also very good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. It encaptured me. My heart felt for the all of the characters. Beautifully written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for our book club group. We all thought it was very well written with good character development. I definitely recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and could not stop reading. Finished the book in three days and am sad it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will love this book! If you like the K ate M orton books , Forgotten Garden, you will like this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story. Very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! i was a bit disappointed with the ending but overall a great read.