‘Wild Beauty’ by Anna-Marie McLemore was not what I imagined it to be.
For generations, the women of La Pradera have lost the ones they loved too much. They are confined to the estate and have made the grounds beautiful with their flowering powers. When five cousins find out they all love the same girl, they come together and offer the land what they hold dear, so that it will not take her from them. But the land gives them a boy, and with him, they unfurl the deepest of secrets and the saddest of heartbreaks.
Estrella and Fel were the points of view (although it wasn’t necessarily obvious at times) and I think this worked extremely well with the story. As a reader I was able to connect with both of them on different emotional levels. Estrella I found loved a little too easily for it to be realistic (just my opinion) but I found Fel’s love for her compelling. I think it’s because there was more turmoil and anguish in Fel’s chapters. Fel had an unknown backstory that made knowing Estrella (and falling for her) a focal point. Estrella had the disappearance of Bay to deal with and Reid’s favour and so I think she was a bit preoccupied with her thoughts and time, which is why I was surprised she fell so hard for him.
The land itself was a character in this book. It allowed Fel to speak for it and hoped he would be able to educate the girls on it’s history. The first line in the book is correct; it did start with those wooden horses, and I wonder if La Pradera didn’t offer them up to Estrella to start her off this journey to the truth. The flowers themselves are their own characters. The different flowers for each Noveolvides woman enhance the experience and helped create the most memorable scenes (Fel’s dream of Estrella as flowers anyone?).
The feminism in this book, is unparalleled to anything I have read in my life so far. It should be a book that children read at school so that the next generation is one of equality and love. (Geez, talk about hippy talk!). The way that loving a person, not their gender, is talked about in this book is so open. I loved that it wasn’t a factor to dwell upon like its ugly or monstrous but rather something that is glossed over as it is perfectly NORMAL. It didn’t surprise me that Estrella loved a girl, what surprised me was that all five of them did, but they needed to in order to kick start the story.
This book was strange. The language that was used seemed slightly old-fashioned, as if an old woman was telling it to her grandchildren and even though I was spelled by it, I couldn’t get a grip on it. It’s so unlike the books that are frequent today that I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It is undeniably beautiful. It is a story to be treasured and handled with care. Most importantly, it is a story to marvel at. La Pradera was magic incarnate and I’m thankful that McLemore didn’t feel the need to explain this; it just is. We are so concerned with the why’s and how’s that we forget to see things for what they are, and that’s what won me over. It doesn’t bow to any conformities; it just is.
“Even in its first faint traces, love could alter a landscape. It wrote unimagined stories and made the most beautiful, forbidding places.”
I received this in Owlcrate’s October ‘Find Me In The Forest’ box.
You can get it here