On the Hillwilla Road


When we last left Beatrice Desmond, mid-life protagonist of Melanie Forde’s engrossing debut novel Hillwilla, she had endured a long winter of sorrow to reach a spring full of promise. She had welcomed to her remote West Virginia farm a troubled young girl, Clara Buckhalter, whose presence drew Beatrice out of her lonely existence.
Now, On the Hillwilla Road, we follow Beatrice and Clara into new challenges. A major piece of unfinished business is Beatrice’s tantalizing friendship/romance with the dashing, wealthy, and extremely handsome Tanner Fordyce. These two seemingly mismatched people discover new and deeper connections—even as they continue to spar and infuriate each other.
Clara, attending a different school at Beatrice’s urging, finds herself involved with two new friends, Leslie and Lane, who are at times confusing and intimidating as well as caring. Meanwhile, all of the other characters from Hillwilla—Rodney Madsen, the pervert who preys on Clara; Charyce, Clara’s tarty mother; Evie, Beatrice’s droll best friend, and the entire Buckhalter clan of men and women who stubbornly and proudly bond to keep out strangers like Beatrice—provide drama, humor and complications galore. And Beatrice’s farm, replete with temperamental llamas; Ralph, her loyal English setter; and the occasional wild critter, further serves as an oasis of refuge and healing.
This fine sequel explores how such disparate individuals can grow to need and depend on one another, even as Beatrice finds herself confronted with a new and life-altering choice. 

Melanie Forde is a veteran writer who has ghosted 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. Fond of parsing the mysteries of Mother Nature, the former city girl has undertaken such foolhardy challenges as turning flax seed into linen over the course of many labor-intense months. “Never again!” she declares. Ms. Forde really does live on a West Virginia farm, but with two dogs, one cat, and a husband. On the Hillwilla Road is her second novel.

An early rave for On the Hillwilla Road...

“A great story and follow up to Hillwilla!

“I couldn’t wait to read On the Hillwilla Road. Beatrice is still considered an outsider and is trying to find common ground without offending the locals. Clara is trying to find her way and is still so confused. But she is a great kid and you can’t help but encourage her. I really like how Beatrice and Tanner are getting closer; I just wanted to slap both of them at times for being so dense and difficult.”
—Jessica Bronder, JBronder Book Reviews


To match the praise and enthusiasm for Hillwilla

“A great, heartwarming story! I loved the scenes; I could feel myself right there in the pages. You can’t help getting sucked into the story and keep reading into the late hours wanting to know what is going to happen next.”
—Jessica Bronder, JBronder Book Reviews

“Melanie Forde has given us a 21st-century Back-to-the-Land novel with a troubled protagonist, but also with a preternaturally responsible English setter, an assurance that the ending will be a happy one.”
—Sue Hubbell, A Country Year

“Melanie Forde’s poetic delivery of life’s spit, sprinkled with the virtues of tolerance, empathy, and humor ... delighted me and gave me pause to reflect. It’s writing that connects the reader with the human spirit.”
—Charlie Hackbarth, Tales of the Trail

“Hillwilla beautifully shows that animals are amazingly human in their love for those they value.”
—Ronald Hart, syndicated libertarian humorist