By Melanie Forde
Genre: Literary/Women’s Contemporary
Life on a llama farm, set in remote “Seneca County,” West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy — all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary “born-heres” and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life. All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara’s scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce’s schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).
4/5 Stars for Reinventing Hillwilla, a novel by Melanie Forde where the main character learns it’s never too late for new beginnings in one’s life.
Forde based most of the book around Beatrice’s love for animals which is what I loved most about this book as an animal lover. The prologue hits us immediately as it’s the main character’s beloved dog who we find out in the first chapter has passed away. That broke my heart, but I continued reading the book hoping she would find it in her heart to get another dog. Plus, she lived on a llama farm and that held my attention while reading the book.
Beatrice was my favorite character because she tried her best to help everyone, even when they got mad at her for doing so. Clara, who Beatrice became a mother figure to, didn’t know what she had when Beatrice took her in. Clara’s mother was a horrible person and even though everyone knew this, Clara still got mad at Beatrice for trying to make her see that and that’s when I didn’t like Clara. Forde portrayed Beatrice as a strong character who didn’t give up on Clara, knowing she would soon come to her sense. Beatrice was also a woman who had been through many tough times and yet, still found it in her heart to always be there for those who needed help. She put everyone else before herself. Would she ever find true love and finally take time to be happy?
The characters I couldn’t stand were Clara and her mother. Her mother was no good, which Forde makes known from the beginning. She wasn’t much in the book, but Forde put her in enough for her to cause trouble. Clara was plain out annoying. Besides taking her mother’s side when she shouldn’t have, her parts in the book made her out to be a whiny young adult. She was eighteen years old and in college, but came out sounding like a teen who didn’t know what she wanted in life.
Beatrice finally opening her heart to getting another dog was my favorite part of the book, especially how Forde wrote about how adorable and cute the dog was once Beatrice brought her home.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick read about second chances in life.
About the Author
Melanie Forde is a veteran writer, ghosting in diverse formats—from academic white papers to advertising copy. Under her own name, she has published numerous features and commentaries about the natural world, as well as the first two novels in the Hillwilla trilogy (Hillwilla and On the Hillwilla Road). She lives in Hillsboro, West Virginia.
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