All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Meant To Be – Fiona McCallum

on November 3, 2014

Meant To BeMeant To Be (The Button Jar #3)
Fiona McCallum
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2014, 424p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

For Emily Oliphant, life is finally looking up. She’s settled back onto the farm and boyfriend Jake has come over from Melbourne to spend some time as he needs rest and recuperation. After such financial uncertainty, Emily is grateful and happy that security will soon be hers and with careful management, she’ll be able to live quite comfortably, something that not so long ago didn’t look possible.

But she’s still a little restless – although her life is going well she still needs something to do. A hobby. Or a job. But Emily really isn’t sure what she wants and whatever it is, she doesn’t want it to be too expensive. She’s been too careful for too long to start blowing money now. Jake suggests they rebuild the cottage on the farm that her ex-husband John reduced to rubble and although apprehensive, Emily is immediately intrigued. She was always drawn to the cottage and always wanted it to be a part of her future and now it actually can be. Plus rebuilding the cottage will help promote Jake’s career locally as well which will help him being able to move there permanently.

Emily is incredibly busy but not too busy not to be there for her best friends, Barbara and David when they’re going through a horrible crisis. She wants to be there for them the same way they’ve always been there for her, through her good times and bad. However right in the middle of supporting them, Emily gets unexpected news that she’s terrified to confess to them. She’s worried that it will drive a wedge between them, something she couldn’t bear.

Meant To Be is the third and (I think) final book in The Button Jar series which began with Saving Grace and continued with Time Will Tell. Over the course of the three novels, a lot has happened to main character Emily Oliphant. Even though I know she went through a lot of difficult things, Emily’s early tendency towards self-pity and negativity often made her quite a frustrating character to be in the head of. Now that everything has turned around for Emily and she has a home, financial security, an income and a new boyfriend who adores her I hoped that her outlook would be much more positive, more of a what can she do rather than what isn’t going well for her. Emily transfers her negativity into a paranoia about money and spends the first portion of this book agonising over every single purchase because she fears not having any money. It got a bit tedious after a while because the reader can see just what an advantageous position Emily is in and her griping about whether or not she can afford towels is a bit ridiculous.

Emily needs direction, something to focus her energy on and thankfully Jake gives her something when he suggests they rebuild the cottage her ex-husband John bulldozed. Emily always loved the cottage and always wanted to do something with it and the idea of having it back again quickly becomes something she can get behind. She knows she doesn’t want a B&B anymore which was her original idea but once she gets a new idea she’s off and running and she does have some really good ideas. The book turns a corner when Emily finds her direction and thankfully it seems that this focus flows over into her personal life.

Emily finally becomes the character I’ve wanted to see her be in this book. She grows in strength and confidence as the build begins to come together, realising that she does have ideas that can work and she can make a real go of this. She also addresses some issues in her personal life, particularly with her mother which is something that has long plagued her. Emily has never really had the ability to stand up for herself before, to assert herself and make herself heard and to have it happen was actually brilliant to see. That scene made a lot of things make sense and although perhaps the aftermath and reconciliation did feel a little rushed it does help bring about the closure that the last book of a series demands. Emily’s life has many facets, not just Jake and the farm so it was good to have that conflict finally play out and be on the way to resolution as well.

Emily has always had a strong friendship with Barbara, who took her under her wing after Emily left John. Barbara is a wonderful character, she’s always been incredibly supportive of Emily, even when I felt that Emily needed a rather swift kick up the backside to jolt her into life. Emily gets the chance to repay that here when Barbara suffers a rather devastating loss and Emily does her absolute best to be the wonderful friend and confidante to Barbara that Barbara was to her. I feel as though that portion of the book once again gives Emily her time to grow and shine – she has to be the strength in the friendship, although it’s coloured by the unexpected news that she gets when she’s trying to be supportive. Although Emily does panic and have some freak outs, they felt very natural, something that most people in her position would and not a slide back into negativity. And as she has support from many avenues, particularly Jake, it’s not something that lingers.

All in all, I enjoyed Meant To Be. For me it’s definitely the strongest book in the trilogy, the book where Emily really comes into her own and stands up for herself finally and also looks forward to being happy. I thought the idea she had for the cottage was really good and it’s the best of her and Jake put into it. It’s a fitting end to the series.


Book #224 of 2014


Meant To Be is book #83 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014


2 responses to “Review: Meant To Be – Fiona McCallum

  1. michelletw says:

    Jealous. 🙂
    Great review.

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