Review: “On the Hillwilla Road” by Melanie Forde, Mountain Lake Press

This appealing story, set in southeastern West Virginia, is replete with vivid descriptive passages that help us feel the realities of life in a world Forde describes as deeply wooded, seriously mountainous and isolated. The central characters, former Bostonian Beatrice Desmond and her teen-age ward Clara Buckwalter–a somewhat unlikely pair brought together through a series of events–become increasingly aware that they are kindred spirits in a changeable world. Ms. Forde excels at providing characters that evoke strong responses from the reader, including Clara’s devious, self-absorbed mother Charyce, her self-righteous, perverse stepfather Rodney, and others considerably more palatable. The non-human creatures are endearing: Beatrice’s loyal, infinitely patient canine companion Ralph, the frisky young llama Bucky. (I really can’t recall the last time I read a book in which llamas were an integral part of the story). The drama is related from many views, creating a rich tapestry incorporating setting, events, and characters into the drama that unfolds. On the Hillwilla Road is a refreshing and thought-provoking book.


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