Hillwilla: A Novel
Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. Her troubled past—an alcoholic father, growing up borderline poor, a suicidal husband—along with her loyalty to a deceased friend, drove her to this lonely existence. She soldiers on, accompanied by her wry sense of humor, a faithful setter named Ralph, and an inherited herd of six llamas, one of whom hurls a wad of chewed-up hay in her face on New Year’s Day, a most unwelcome omen.
A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in fictional Seneca County. She has constant difficulty dealing with the locals, many of whom she finds interesting but unfathomable. And although she maintains contact with certain friends and family—lively and irreverent Evie, sturdy brother Bart—they remain distant geographically and sometimes emotionally. As a result, and too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniel’s she maintains nearby.
Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce. Gradually, Beatrice finds the harsh Appalachian winter of her life easing and signs of a hopeful spring appearing. Her resolute independence and crusty reserve soften, her carefully constructed barriers fall, and her guarded and self-protective nature moderates, as she explores the renewed pleasures of emotional involvement.
At times sad, at times hilarious, and always quirky, Hillwilla is a life-affirming read. It celebrates the glories of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, the healing power derived from genuine connections with others, and the potential for reinventing ourselves—at any age. Come, explore the unforgettable world of Hillwilla.
264 pages, Hardcover, 6 X 9, ISBN: 978-0-9885919-7-4