Author: Fiona McCallum
Meant To Be is the third in The Button Jar series by Fiona McCallum. The series is set in Wattle Creek and our heroine is Emily Oliphant who has been on a journey of self discovery since the first book, Saving Grace.
Yes, this is a series and the three books run chronologically but they also stand alone.
Emily has come miles from the good daughter who struggled to stand up for herself. She is living on the farm with boyfriend Jake and finally starting to feel that things are settling down and looking up.
It has been a year of great upheaval for Emily and everything has changed in her life. She can sit back now with her newfound financial security and her independence and decide what she wants to do with her future. Now that the choice is hers she knows that she needs to find a direction, sitting at home on the farm is not going to be enough for her.
I think Emily grated on me more in this one than the previous books for her very repetitive train of thought. I lost count of the number of times we were privy to Emily’s ‘it must be meant to be’ thoughts when everything was taken as a sign. Their star signs were compatible, they were on the same page with communication, the list went on and it was all a sign that this was meant to be. At first I found it a little over the top, basking in my perfection, but the further in I got the more it seemed that the person Emily was trying to convince was herself. After all she had been through this was her happily ever after and she needed to embrace it.
Self esteem has never been one of Emily’s strong points and it has taken a lot for her to start believing in herself and what she can achieve. She has never been very confident or optimistic but we see here that she is really trying to turn that around. She pulls herself up when she starts thinking negatively and gives herself the kind of pep talk she would expect from Gran or that Barbara gives her. Her confidence and self esteem are slowly building and we can see it happening, though she’s not quite ready to stop worrying what people will think.
Emily came so far from the mild mannered lady that found it impossible to say no to her mother and only ended up leaving her husband because of the danger her puppy Grace was in. We have watched her learn to live on her own, battle financial hardship, use some initiative to make money, start restoration of an old homestead and most importantly she’s learning to say No to her mother.
Meant To Be has her start backing down again, though now she’s justifying it to herself. The circumstances are completely different and she is standing up for herself but there are still times that she seems to know what she wants but allows herself to be swayed.
The pacing was okay and I enjoyed seeing it all come together. Relationships were resolved and long held resentments were aired which made for great closure.
The cottage that Emily had so loved on her property has become quite a feature of this series. I live in the Adelaide Hills and there are ruins of many buildings sitting out in the middle of paddocks as I drive around. I am fascinated by these buildings, there is one in particular that I would have loved to have my wedding photos at had I known how to go about organising it. Meant To Be sees the introduction of many of these ruins in the area of Wattle Creek and I was interested to hear about the property owners feelings about them.
I feel like Emily got a bit of a wake-up call in Meant To Be because she has kept very much to herself throughout. She has assumed the reactions of her small hometown, largely I would say based on the refrain ‘what will people think’ that has been her mother’s catch cry her whole life. The friendship Emily has forged with Barbara and David has been wonderful and helped her growth but the picture she has painted of small town life has more focused on the negative. We have seen the everyone knowing your business, the gossip and the judgement side of small town life. In Meant To Be Emily experiences the other side of small town life, the sense of community and the way everyone chips in and bands together in an emergency.
Meant To Be wraps everything nicely but it has left me wanting more. I want to know what happens next, I want to see what happens for Barbara and David and I want to follow through on the fate of the cottage. At this stage Meant To Be is the end of The Button Jar series but we can hope that the residents of Wattle Creek keep talking to Fiona and clamour for another story. I have written up some questions for Fiona McCallum and I am hoping she can shed a little light on my questions for me so please watch this space for our upcoming Fiona McCallum interview.
Meant to Be is Book #1 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015.
We have copies of Meant To Be to giveaway to 5 of our lucky readers. If you want to be one of them tell us in the comments below about your favourite part of the scenery when out driving.
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