Book Review: Rocking Horse Hill

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Author: Cathryn Hein
ISBN: 9781921901980
RRP: $29.99

Rocking Horse Hill is the latest offering from Cathryn Hein and it was definitely worth the wait. A little bit romance, a little bit suspense and a dash of old money snobbery in small town South Australia.

Emily Wallace-Jones was born and bred in Levenham, a smallish town a couple of hours out of Adelaide. She lives at Rocking Horse Hill, the family property inherited by her brother Digby but promised to her for as long as she wants to live there. Emily has always shared a deep connection with Rocking Horse Hill and no-one who knows her could ever imagine her making a life anywhere else.

The Wallaces have been in the area for generations and their family history is inextricably linked to that of the town. They are an extremely wealthy family which is not without its downfalls, as both Emily and Digby can attest.

Early on we learn that Digby is very well off and it is he who inherited Rocking Horse Hill, though he is living above the stables of Camrick, which is the Wallace manor house in town, in a renovated bachelor pad wanting for nothing whereas Emily runs her own small business and talks of having to do so frugally. I’m not sure how much of this is because she wants to do it on her own merits and how much is that she has to but it is mentioned that the Wallace wealth is handed down through to male heirs.

Hein beautifully weaves a tale that is filled with remorse and redemption, romance and recrimination and a hefty dose of suspense.

rocking horse hill

Digby has been scarred by love and left quite despondent so his newfound happiness with fiance Felicity is welcomed with open arms, until it becomes a little unsettling. Felicity is from a notoriously bad area of Adelaide and her family life was very much less than ideal, she has some skeletons in her closet but is adamant that she only wants to be loved and welcomed into a family.

Emily once loved a boy who wasn’t well off like the Wallaces, he had the hopes and dreams of an ordinary man and he loved her with all his heart but it just wasn’t enough for the shallow and superficial young Emily. It has been over a decade and Emily still suffers crippling guilt for her behaviour and she never quite got over Josh Sinclair. She is determined not to allow the same fate to befall Digby and Felicity, she won’t allow snobbery to tear these two apart.

Josh is back in town to spend time with his mum and it is soon clear that the chemistry between the two is far from resolved but can the heartbreak of the past ever be forgiven and forgotten? Emily’s guilt and shame over the past is clouding her judgement, she is so determined to give Felicity the second chance she isn’t sure she deserves that it may put all she loves in jeopardy.

Cathryn Hein has constructed a beautiful tale of family, love and second chances. Her characters are relatable and realistic and her settings beautifully drawn. Her cast is filled with not only the people in Emily’s life but also the animals. Hein brings the animals in her stories to life in such a way that they become just as integral to the story as the people, the resolution of their storylines as important to me as that of the humans.

Heartache and hope are bound together in the second chances there for the taking if the strength and courage to reach out and grab them can be found. Emily is still beating herself up for her shameful behaviour over a decade ago but her two best friends are struggling through some serious conflicts of their own. Hein brings many elements into play with struggling farmers, infidelity, family business partnerships, illness and criminal pasts all circling the storyline. There is so much scope for devastating heartbreak as well as heartwarming hope, and a healthy dose of laughter at the antics of Kicki and Cutie the rescued donkeys.

An engaging read from Cathryn Hein that ensures I will be on the lookout for her future releases – and finding the time to catch up on her back catalogue.

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