Title: Saving Grace
Author: Fiona McCallum
Genre: Women’s Fiction
When Emily Oliphant married John Stratten, she thought it was the beginning of an exciting new adventure, imagining herself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most eligible farmer in the district, mucking in to build a thriving agricultural business. Three years later, however, Emily sees her marriage for what it is — a loveless tie to a callous man, her advice heeded only when it pertains to her husband’s dinner. The last straw comes when John threatens to harm her new puppy, and Emily is forced to brave her husband’s wrath, and her mother’s glaring disapproval, and move out. With the encouragement of her new friend Barbara, Emily moves into an abandoned property, taking on the mammoth task of making the unloved house into a home. As she begins to work on the property, she discovers a new side of her father, meets some new friends and finds an inner strength she never knew she had. Emily’s fragile confidence is soon tested, though, when the owners of the property make her a tempting offer. Will she risk everything and invest in the ramshackle house that has finally given her a sense of purpose? Or will Emily listen to the views of the community, and the voice of her mother, and go back to her sensible, but meaningless, life with John?
I have been hearing the term ‘Rural Lit’ around the traps for a while but hadn’t really experienced it for myself. Have to be honest and say I scoffed at the term, and thought that it would be all cow cockies, beer swilling and…well…boring. Yes that’s right I am not a country girl, so I obviously know nothing! What a pleasant surprise, if Saving Grace is a typical example of Rural Lit, I have missed out on so much!!!
So what is Rural Lit? It is women who live in the country overcoming anything that gets in their way. Traditionally working on the land is a man’s world, while women play an important, but unrecognized, part supporting their menfolk; but now they are coming out and standing on their own feet and taking charge. Many challenges in the country are similar to those in a city but with some major extra differences on top: long distances, lack of health care and other services to name a few. So when a woman such as Emily living in the bush leaves her husband she finds that professional support and therapy is thin on the ground.
SAVING GRACE is all about how Emily found the strength to go it alone, and the plot follows her growth from a downtrodden and bullied wife to an independent confident woman. The support characters are all believable and mostly likable; Emily’s ex and her mother being examples of characters that are not so likable. I have met people like Emily’s mother – in fact put her in a city and you would have my own mother to the T! I did feel that a real-life John may not have acted that way. Someone as hugely controlling and potentially violent may have caused a lot more problems than he did, so to that extent Emily got off lightly. Author, Fiona McCallum, refrained from having Emily jump straight into a new love interest but managed to hint that when Emily was ready there was potential out there. At first the ending left me a little up in the air, there was not enough total closure for me. But when I sat and thought about it – when someone starts a whole new life not everything would be clear cut straight away and as long as there is the potential for a bright new future then that is good enough for me. SAVING GRACE is the first book I have read by Fiona McCallum and I shall definitely go and look for her earlier books.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.
For more about the author – Click Here
With thanks to Harlequin Enterprises Australia and the author via NetGalley
Saving Grace is book # 11 for AWW2013