Book Review: Wattle Creek

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Author: Fiona McCallum
ISBN: 978-192179539-8
RRP: $29.99

Wattle Creek has been on my TBR pile for quite some time but because it’s been getting a little out of hand this one slipped out of sight for a while. In recent weeks there have been some fabulous rural releases that haven’t quite made it to my shelves yet and I think that’s what made me so itchy for a rural that I couldn’t get involved in anything else, so I knew it was time for Wattle Creek and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The first thing that did take some getting used to was the hero, I sometimes find it hard to get into a character who shares the name of someone close to me. Don’t get me wrong, he was a well drawn character that I really came to like, and I certainly felt for. It just took me a while to not get that jolt when reading his name. I can’t explain that really, I know that there are only so many names and some are popular and some are more obscure and the character names have to fit the characters, and this one did, but I am still affected by names when they play a big part in my real life.

I grew to like these characters quite easily, I was drawn to the small town sense of community, and I identified with the small town gossip and the sense of everyone knowing your business. I found the characters to be believable for the most part but there were times I was left wondering if things didn’t go too neatly to script.

wattle creek

Wattle Creek was quite predictable at times and I could see from very early on how the end would play out. Yet at the same time, as I sit here reflecting, there are things that I expected to happen that didn’t and there were some unexpected turns of events.

Fiona McCallum has quite sensitively addressed the issue of depression in men in rural areas as we see Damien struggling with a feeling that he’s at a loss to explain, and in a situation that scares him enough to seek help, even as he second guesses himself at every turn. The catalyst for these feelings comes just before the small town of Wattle Creek becomes the home for young psychologist Jacqueline Havelock.

Damien reaches out to the town GP for help after almost attempting suicide, he is prescribed anti-depressants and encouraged to make an appointment with the new psychologist, due to start the following Monday. At this point nothing is really said about depression, and Damien has not confessed to his near miss.

The main focus of Wattle Creek is the journey Damien takes back from the brink. The learning to recognise what is going on, and at times we are given a real insight to some of the symptoms of his depression without them being labelled as such, and making the effort to change his way of thinking to turn his life around and make a new path. This journey was a joy to watch, and to see the happily ever after come into being was satisfying but for me I found it all a little too neat and tidy. I don’t know how much that magical lightbulb moment really happens.

I really did enjoy reading Wattle Creek, watching the changes in the characters was satisfying, seeing everyone get their happy ending was heartwarming, looking in on small town life with all the friendly welcoming of the older generation, the busy-bodying and the banding together in times of tragedy. I just think it all tied together too neatly and those who saw Jacqueline with genuine issues that we were made privy to had things become clear and everything sorted in record time, I don’t think counselling actually works quite that quickly.

I will definitely be reading Fiona McCallum again, and am looking forward to her new release Saving Grace – which just made my pile after I started this one.

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