My review of Wildwood by Elinor Florence will follow the publisher’s blurb :
A single mother. An abandoned farmhouse. An epic battle with the northern wilderness.
Broke and desperate, Molly Bannister accepts the ironclad condition laid down in her great-aunt’s will: to receive her inheritance, Molly must spend one year in an abandoned, off-the-grid farmhouse in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. If she does, she will be able to sell the farm and fund her four-year-old daughter’s badly needed medical treatment.
With grim determination, Molly teaches herself basic homesteading skills. But her greatest perils come from the brutal wilderness itself, from blizzards to grizzly bears. Will she and her child survive the savage winter? Will she outsmart the idealist young farmer who would thwart her plan to sell the farm? Not only their financial future, but their very lives are at stake. Only the journal written by Molly’s courageous great-aunt, the land’s original homesteader, inspires her to struggle on.
Since I read more thrillers these days, Wildwood was a little detour from my “who-dunnit” page-turners. I picked this one up because I liked the premise of the novel; living off the grid is something that appeals to me very much (for like a weekend maybe). Wildwood was a much needed escape into the quiet, haunting Canadian north – a year long journey into the harsh northern landscape and one single mother’s determination to survive.
Molly’s resourcefulness and determination are what hooked me, it kept me reading. It reminded me of how strong I had to be at certain times in my own life and how I dug deep to find strength. Sometimes I wonder just where that strength came from. My father told me once (and I’ll never forget it) “You have no idea how strong you really are.” It’s something that has kept me going far too many times than I care to admit.
Even though after reading the first few chapters I knew how Wildwood would end, Elinor Florence sketched a beautiful story of quiet determination. The picturesque landscape comes to life and season after season, Molly learns to fend for herself with no running water or electricity. She grows in ways she never thought possible. Florence also weaves modern concerns into this novel and tackles issues such as fracking and indigenous topics that are present in the media right now.
Through a journal Molly finds in her aunt’s house, we are taken back in time and learn about the struggles of our early settlers. This brings me to another thing I loved about the novel, The House. I spent a lot of time thinking about that house, with all its untouched treasures – frozen in time. When I was living in Northern Ontario, I’d often see abandoned houses and I’d be itching to have a look inside.
I know, I know… there are many things I loved about the novel – but my absolute favorite parts were when Molly spent time in the kitchen. Reading her baking adventures brought back wonderful memories of my own. Not only as a child watching my mother bake but my own trials and errors with eggs and flour. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch! Old cookbooks fascinate me, and I have quite the little collection. I love the ones that have hand written recipes in them or little notes in the margin so every time Molly took out her worn cookbook, I wanted to get into my kitchen as well.
It’s a wonderful read, so I suggest a cup of your favorite beverage along with a comfy place to read and you’ll be ready to escape into the pages of Elinor Florence’s Wildwood.
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
Published by Dundurn Press
A galley of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my thoughts and review.