I absolutely loved Rocking Horse Hill. Aussie author Cathryn Hein has created a masterpiece with this novel, her best yet in my opinion.
A wonderful novel which I have no hesitation in recommending highly.
5 stars from Goodreads librarian Brenda
I think with each novel, Hein takes a step forward. Hers have always contained exploration of family dramas and emotions but she’s refining her skills and creating more depth and trying new things. The romance is strong in every book but it’s never just the focus – there’s always so much more going on and the talent is that everything blends together seamlessly without feeling crowded and the focus never feels uneven. I think that without a doubt, this is her best book yet.
9/10 from 1 Girl 2 Many Books
Heart wrenching moments and tension that will keep your eyes to the book. Character stories intertwine to form one big story that was a phenomenal read.
4 stars from Talking Books
Em sighed, carefully placed her pen down and recapped the ink bottle. Ruined parchment scattered PaperPassion’s counter. No matter how hard she concentrated her hand refused to remain steady. As they had often since the day before, her thoughts drifted towards Digby and Felicity. Em rarely felt sorry for herself but since Felicity’s arrival she’d become increasingly aware of the hollow that Trent’s lost love had left, and wished that she, too, had someone to share her life with, whose protective strong hold forged an armour against loneliness.
Thanks to improved weather the street was busier than it had been in weeks, yet the space between customers felt infinite, and Mondays were commonly slow. She’d survived the morning, had even found it enjoyable. It had taken a good deal of experimentation but Em had finally managed to string PaperPassion’s new stock up with fishing line, transforming this season’s jewel-coloured notebooks into swooping birds and hovering butterflies. From the street, where the line couldn’t be seen, her new window display appeared a life-filled terrarium. She’d draped off-cuts of satin dress linings in varying shades of green behind it, creating a bower of lushness. More satin sheathed the floor, the surface scattered with silk orchids and fern fronds. But it was the notebooks that made the window spectacular, glowing with the promise of tropical pleasure, a tease for those seeking warmth from winter.
Of everything she and her mother had in common, it was their artistic streak that dominated. Em channelled hers into her calligraphy, illuminations and gardening, Adrienne into cooking, fashion and home decorating. It was a good Wallace gene to inherit, and Em was proud of it.
With another sigh, she tucked the parchment into piles and stared out through the shop’s glass door at the street. A woman halted to admire the display before glancing at her watch and moving on. Em checked her own watch. Hours remained, and caffeine would help her through the rest of the day. Giving the street a last scan for approaching customers, she headed into the storeroom.
The bell over PaperPassion’s entrance door tinkled as she sugared her tea and added a drop of milk. Unconcerned, she took a sip. The stock was safe enough. It was probably someone she knew and PaperPassion wasn’t exactly a shoplifter’s paradise. Kids occasionally stole a fruit-scented eraser or coloured pencil but even that was rare, and the cost negligible. The worst shrinkage occurred from rough handling, when customers tossed notebooks back into racks without care, bending pages and denting covers.
With a welcoming smile on her face, she rattled apart the bead curtain and stepped back into the shop. A man stood with his back to her at the front shelves, flicking through a sky-blue B5-sized hardcover notebook. His hair was light brown and slightly too long, curling over the edge of his collar. A navy fleece jumper fitted snugly across his wide shoulders, before tapering to hug narrow hips. He wore light khaki cotton-drill trousers, the sort favoured by tradies, and though loose they couldn’t hide the muscularity of his legs. His boots were brown suede and thick-soled. Framed against the artificially bright wall of stationary, he appeared earthy, solid and very, very familiar.
She checked his left hand. Three fingers, from the little to the middle, were missing, severed at the second knuckle.
Em placed her mug down behind the counter, her nerves sizzling. She knew that agonising boyhood injury. She knew those legs, those shoulders, that hair. She knew everything about this man and more.
Joshua Sinclair turned and smiled the same smile that had pierced her cool as a teenager. The smile that had made her first give him her heart, then her body, and let him preciously tend both until the day she’d snatched them back and broken two people in the process.
His eyes hadn’t changed. The lids still tilted at the edges, giving him a thoughtful, almost sad, expression that Em had considered mysterious and deeply sexy back then. He had a way of holding her gaze with a toe-curling intensity, his molasses-coloured eyes not moving from hers. It was as if she possessed something he coveted but didn’t know how to take.
For a heady moment, as his eyes widened in recognition, she felt that gaze again and her heart lifted with the hope that perhaps time had led to forgiveness or, at least, perspective. Then his smile died, and with it her dream.
‘Emily.’ He looked away, his mouth compressing, before staring straight back at her.
And everything in his stony expression revealed that no matter what emotions the years had softened, bitterness wasn’t one of them.
When I was a kid growing up in Mt Gambier, one of the best birthday parties anyone could hold was a day spent climbing Mount Schank and sliding from the top to the bottom on your bum. It was like a giant dirt slippery dip with the occasional thistle and rock getting in the way. In other words a complete blast.
Mt Schank, like its sister Mt Gambier, is an extinct volcano about 18 kms to the south of the town. Unlike Mt Gambier, which long ago blew its top and caved in on itself in what must have been spectacular fashion, Mt Schank has maintained its perfect volcano shape. Like a kid’s drawing, except perhaps slightly flatter.
When you’re growing up, volcanos, like dinosaurs, are cool. Being able to slide on your bum from the top to the bottom of one, getting completely filthy while travelling at what feels like 100 kms an hour, is even cooler. So Mt Schank has always stuck in my mind. For the fun it gave and for the fact that’s its completely speccy.