Review: Saving Grace by Fiona Mccallum

Title: Saving Grace {The Button Jar Series #1}

Author: Fiona Mccallum

Published: Harlequin April 2013

Status: Read from March 28 to 29, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Saving Grace is the fourth book by Fiona Mccallum set in South Australia and the first in a new series named The Button Jar series. In this contemporary rural fiction novel, Emily Oliphant has endured three years of marriage to John Stratten and, when he destroys her hope of developing a B&B (literally) and threatens her only companion, a puppy named Grace, she decides she can’t take his cruelty anymore. Despite her mother’s vehement disapproval and her own doubts, Emily leaves and must find a way to rebuild her life and her dreams.

After struggling with Mccallum’s lead protagonist in Wattle Creek, I was hoping to find Emily a more personable character. Unfortunately I quickly grew frustrated with Emily’s passive attitude which swings wildly between self pity and bitterness. There were glimpses of strength but too fleeting, and almost immediately undone by semi hysterical rhetoric. To be fair, I was not completely without sympathy for Emily and thought that her thoughts and behaviours were not unrealistic, especially as she wavers, but I found her pessimism wearing.

I often find when I can’t relate to the main character of a book it influences how I feel about the story as a whole, and that is certainly the case here especially as very little else happened plot wise. Saving Grace is a character driven novel and without the connection to Emily I care little about what happens to her. This novel feels as it ends abruptly with very little progress or resolution. There is some growth but generally at the instigation of others and I really wanted for Emily to take a more active role.

I did like Barbara quite a lot though, I appreciated how supportive and practical she proved to be, given the newness of her friendship with Emily. I also liked the way in Emily’s father extended his quiet support to Emily, especially in the face of her mother’s endless criticism and disapproval.

I really wanted to fall in love with Saving Grace, and I am sorry I didn’t. I consider my opinion to be the result of a personality conflict with Emily, and not a reflection on the author but I can only describe it as an okay read (hence the 2 stars).

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1girl2manybooks
    Apr 02, 2013 @ 09:59:48

    I have to agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here. Emily made it very hard for me to care about her at all and I think that this could’ve been so much MORE. The story has such potential but the execution seems lacking.

    Reply

  2. The Australian Bookshelf
    Apr 02, 2013 @ 19:02:11

    I found it hard to connect with Emily times too Shelleyrae. Barbara was a great supporting character.

    Reply

  3. kimbofo
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 22:25:49

    Hi Shelleyrae, thanks so much for adding this review to my Australian Literature Reviews page. Any chance you could add the badge to your review so that I can donate 50p to the Indigenous Literacy Fund? (The whole idea behind the badge is for people to take note of it and be encouraged to find out more about #Ozlitmonth and how they can help me raise money for the ILF)

    Sadly, Fiona Maccallum doesn’t seem to be published in the UK, so I didn’t know about this book or the author, so thanks for bringing her to my attention.

    Reply

  4. Teddyree
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 15:26:45

    Bummer! I need a connection (love or hate) in a character driven novel and I have this one coming up soon … we’ll see

    Reply

  5. Tess Mee
    Oct 01, 2013 @ 12:32:58

    The book was okay, but, such an abrupt end. As though some pages are missing???
    I have loved Fiona’s other three books.

    Reply

  6. Anita.
    May 12, 2014 @ 22:54:07

    Yes Emily seems an aloof character a bit hard to get to know…I put it down to the fact she was still finding her feet after the Marriage and changes and hoping she would become more together in character in the 2nd book. Barbara you can picture and it makes you want a Barbara all of your own…I too found the ending a surprise not pleasantly…but I was keen to read the next book to see what happens..

    Reply

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