In 1926, the Evergreen Spa Hotel was where Australia’s rich come to stay. Flora and Sam Honeychurch-Black, wealthy brother and sister, have come to the Evergreen Spa Hotel in order that Sam can ‘recover’ from his condition. Sadly, his condition is opium addiction and Flora holds out little hope for a ‘cure’. Along with the siblings are Flora’s fiancé, Tony, and some of his friends. Flora once dreamed of becoming a doctor, but her family’s aspirations for her, a young woman of impeccable breeding, was for a advantageous marriage. Handsome and wealthy, Tony seems to fit the bill.
Violet Armstrong, a naive teenager, has come to work at the hotel to earn money to send back to her mother in Sydney who suffers from severe arthritis. Luckily for Violet, the manageress of the hotel favours her and keeps her on over the winter months. When Violet – a lowly waitress – meets the wealthy hotel guest Sam, it is love at first sight for them both. They begin a secret love affair which has tragic consequences.
Things take a sinister turn when a severe snowstorm cuts the hotel off from the neighbouring village. Tension, frustration and isolation erode the social norms. Most of the hotel guests have left leaving only a handful – with just a skeleton staff to care for their needs. The kenopsia was palpable. Then conditions worsen. Their supplies are cut off, staff fall sick with the flu, there is no electricity, and most importantly, Sam’s supply of opium dries up…
In 2014, after the death of her beloved brother Adam, Lauren Beck comes to Evergreen Falls to work in the hotel’s café. She is away from her home in Tasmania for the first time. Although thirty years of age, Lauren is naive to the ways of the world because she had been sheltered by her family whilst caring for her terminally ill older brother.
The hotel is being renovated and refurbished. Tomas, one of the team of architects from Denmark, comes in to Lauren’s café daily for coffee. For the first time in her life, she knows how it feels to be attracted to a man. After a short acquaintance, Tomas gives Lauren a key to the west wing of the hotel where she discovers some old love letters. Tomas returns to Denmark and she embarks on a quest to discover more about the writer of the letters.
As with most well researched historical novels, I am reminded about the time period. How segregated males and females were – years before any semblance of equality for women, when a double-standard was the norm. How unaccepting society was of homosexuality. The class stratification in the 1920s.
More than a romantic love story, “Evergreen Falls” speaks to the love between siblings, between parent and child, between friends. A historical saga with a smattering of suspense, the story will be enjoyed by many.
Kimberley Freeman was born in London and her family moved back to Australia when she was three years old. She grew up in Queensland where she currently lives.
Kimberley has written for as long as she can remember and she is proud to write in many genres. She is an award-winning writer in children’s, historical and speculative fiction under her birth name Kim Wilkins. She adopted the pen name Kimberley Freeman for her commercial women’s fiction novels to honour her maternal grandmother and to try and capture the spirit of the page-turning novels she has always loved to read. She lives in Brisbane with her kids and pets and lovely partner.
Listen to the author describe how her grandmother inspired her to write “Evergreen Falls”.