Wildwood, Elinor Florence
Wildwood, Elinor Florence
Genre: General fiction (adult), women’s fiction.
Well this was one of those reads which was a real treasure. It merges past and present beautifully with present day Molly, reading the diaries of her great aunt, first owner of wildwood, and the story of their struggles to live in such an inhospitable environment.
Molly and Bridget are wonderful, Molly, having had a hard life and been disappointed one too many times in love, is determined its just her and Bridget now. Bridget has elective mutism, and was having treatment, as she can speak but will only talk to Molly.
Then things change, Molly loses her job, they can’t afford Bridget’s therapy, can’t afford the apartment and are facing homelessness when she gets contacted by a solicitor about her great aunts will.
Its the first Molly knows about her family, and comes as a shock. She will inherit Wildwood and can do with it as she pleases but first she has to live there for a year. Or she can take a lump sum which would give them a few months reprieve. $50,000 or $1.5 million…There’s a $400 a month rental from land contracted out if she chooses to stay there which will provide the basics.
Of course she opts to stay but the house has been closed up for many years and is filthy, and Molly and Bridget seem to have a bit of a germ mania….frantic cleaning restores it to its glory, a beautiful home but with no plumbing, no electricity. They’re going to be living much as the ancestors did. Molly finds the diary of her great aunts first year, when she was just 18, along with other books, and they help her so much. She a city girl, can’t cook, knows nothing of country life, how to live in a place where the answer to everything is Google.
I loved seeing the story from the present, Bridget and Molly having great days, having bad days, having scary days. I loved Winona, young girl from the local reservation who came to be such a friend and help to the family.
She had a tough life and the diary talks about Annie Bearspaw, who was her great grandmother ( I think) and a famous healer.
I loved how they changed over the course of the year, grew in confidence, how Bridget became a different child from the scared, timid one she was, Molly learned practical skills, and Winona opened out from the quiet ,slightly sullen girl we first met. .
There’s a hint of romance and that made the book perfect for me, Colin was a great guy, it was clear how he felt about Molly, Bridget and Winona, and how they felt for him. The gentle way the romance played out, taking a very back role in the story was perfect.
Of course its not all sweet and light, there are reminders of how harsh the land is, how unforgiving of mistakes, how people have to take care at all times not to get lost to the vagaries of nature.
Lisette, reader of bodice ripper romance, with her vivid clothes and tortured hairstyles, secretary to Mr Jones ( Franklin) the solicitor who handles everything. I adored her, and felt so sad for her when she realised just how things were going, that she was another victim of the “wife doesn’t understand me” justification. I looked forward to seeing what she was wearing, what she was reading each month. She had a perfect end too – and I hope she went on to go far, she was such a kind, sunny person.
I made a couple of notes while reading..the rhubarb pie Molly so proudly makes but doesn’t add enough sugar, reminded me of a time when I made two perfect rhubarb crumbles for my husband and my friend. I don’t like rhubarb but they did, and the crumbles looked perfect. Only issue was I forgot the sugar, not added too little but forgot it altogether! Yeach…really sour.
The second note, not humorous at all was the reference to Winona’s ancestors, victims of the Residential School system. The whites of the time were so obnoxious we decided Native Indians needed education in our ways, and removed whole families of their children, taking them far away to residential schools. No chance to object, no thought for the kids or the families who lost them, it was just done. Of course they weren’t going to be accepted by the whites even if well educated, and taken away from their support system they lost their place, their role in the Native Indian group too, turned into people with no real place in the world.
How arrogant we can be at times. I’d read about this a couple of years back and had no knowledge of it before, but it was quite widespread, no doubt all the “do-good” types patting themselves on the back for a job well done, when in reality they ruined lives of the kids taken away and the families left behind.
Ah well, that’s today’s rant over 😉 read this book if you love history brought to life, to see the past through the eyes of people living it.
Stars: Five, great read, real situation, past and present both felt very real, its not a one plot story but one with some real substance to it. One I will reread.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers