Being a huge fan of Kim Wilkins work, it was with great curiosity and excitement that I picked up this book, written under her non de plume, Kimberley Freeman, and marking another genre for this incredibly talented writer. I already know what a masterful storyteller Wilkins is and, writing as Freemen, she doesn’t disappoint. This tale of two women from the same family, told across two different time periods and in two hemispheres is compelling, tragic, thrilling and uplifting. Commencing in 1995 and swiftly moving back in time to 1930s Scotland, before shifting to Australia, it tells of one woman’s search for love, place and above all, self and against the backdrop of the Depression and looming war. Beattie Blaxland starts as a woman moulded by her upbringing and the prejudices of class, sex and race. However, instead of being a woman who ‘things are done to’ she becomes a woman ‘who does things’ and, in doing so, forges a remarkable path into the future – and not only her own.
That decades later, her supremely talented granddaughter, prima ballerina Emma, benefits from her grandmother’s trailblazing only to have her comfortable world fall apart, is at first heart-breaking. But Emma is imbued with the Blaxland spirit and, the more she learns, through an unexpected legacy, about her grandmother’s past, the more she learns about herself.
This book gallops along, taking the reader by the hand and heart, plunging you into great joy and sorrow, tragedy and triumph. I read it in one sitting (well, it was broken by a general anesthetic – really!), but I couldn’t put it down and longed to find out what happened. It’s a powerful and moving tale about longing, loss, family, place, community and the various forces that shape the self within these and how, if we look deep enough, we can find the strength to endure what at first seems unendurable.
Simply a beautiful story that I cannot recommend highly enough.
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