Review: Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein



Title: Rocking Horse Hill

Author: Cathryn Hein

Published: Penguin April 2014


Status: Read from April 22 to 23, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Rocking Horse Hill is Cathryn Hein’s fourth novel, blending heartfelt romance with impassioned drama in rural Australia.

Emily Wallace-Jones has led a charmed life, having grown up at Camrick, the country manor owned by her wealthy family in Levenham for generations, she is now a successful businesswoman and lives happily in the shadow of Rocking Horse Hill on the family property she has coveted since childhood. Em has only one major regret – allowing her immature ego to destroy her relationship with Josh Sinclair ten years previously.
So, when Emily’s brother, Digby, announces his engagement to Felicity Townsend, a young woman with an unsavoury background, Em is determined to not repeat her teenage mistake, and do all she can to make her future sister-in-law feel welcome, even though the Wallace matriarch, Granny B, seems convinced Felicity somehow poses a threat to the family.
Reconnecting with Josh, who has returned to Levenham to support his ill mother, only strengthens Emily’s resolve to defend Felicity but placing her faith in the young woman will prove to have tragic consequences for everyone she loves.

This is the first of Hein’s books to develop a plot that also includes light suspense and I think the author does it very well. Hein subtly builds the tension through the novel and I was never entirely sure if Felicity was innocent of the aspersions cast at her by Granny B, and others, or whether she was simply a victim of snobbery and prejudice.

Emily is torn between her family’s suspicions about Felicity and her own guilty conscience, and it seems reasonable that Emily would want to give Felicity the benefit of the doubt. I liked Emily who, despite her youthful mistake with Josh, is shown to have become grateful for the privileges she has been afforded. She has a lovely relationship with Granny B and an affectionate, if not close, relationship with her mother and brother, she is also a loyal friend and a hard worker, making a success of her business, PaperPassion.

Hein always creates appealing male protagonists who are unequivocally masculine but not ‘macho’ and I enjoyed her portrayal of Josh in Rocking Horse Hill. Though he has since been married and divorced, he still harbours some bitterness over the way his relationship with Em ended and he discovers he is still strongly attracted to her, he is reluctant to trust her with his heart again.

Though Em and Josh reconnect physically quite quickly when it becomes evident their mutual attraction hasn’t faded, the emotional reunion between the pair was developed slowly, recognising their need to make peace with their past, and renew their relationship as adults.

Additional complexity in the story is provided by the personal struggles experienced by Emily’s two best friend’s, and Josh’s mother’s battle with breast cancer. Hein has also again crafted animal characters who round out the story, including an aging dog, a querulous duck and a recalcitrant pair of donkeys who continually escape their paddock.

With its appealing characters, dramatic storyline and vivid setting, Rocking Horse Hill is an engaging read, and paraphrasing my cover quote, Cathryn Hein is a must-read Australian woman writer.

 You can learn more about Cathryn Hein and Rocking Horse Hill in the Q&A I posted earlier at Book’d Out HERE

Rocking Horse Hill is available to purchase from

Penguin  I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Amazon US

  via Booko




4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Louise Reynolds
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 19:45:13

    Love reading your reviews. But in this instance the link to read an extract took me to another book.



  2. notesoflifeuk
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 23:29:22

    Once again you’ve reviewed a book that I now want to pick up and read 🙂



  3. Trackback: Review: The Falls by Cathryn Hein | book'd out

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