Farm romance is a popular genre of fiction in Australia at the moment and Fiona McCallum’s novel, Saving Grace, fits right into this style. Personally though, I would rather get up in the middle of the night to assist a cow to give birth than read another farm romance novel. Once was enough, thank you very much.
I found myself cringing with embarrassment while I was reading this, hoping that no one outside of Australia ever reads Saving Grace and thinks these characters are representative of our national character. If I had read it on the train, I would have hid the cover.
Saving Grace is an extended Mills and Boon-type novel, except without any romance, a hero or a plot. To make matters worse, the heroine, Emily, is a dopey, whinging, wuss. There was some sex, which sadly, was bad. Not dirty bad or even bad because it was unbelievable and ridiculous, but bad because we learn that Emily’s husband is selfish both in and out of bed. Ho hum.
At the age of 28, which is almost ‘on the shelf’ in the Australian country – according to this story anyway, Emily married the richest farmer in the district. Three years later, after lots of bad sex, not being allowed to work, not being allowed to have a dog and being constantly ridiculed and put down, Emily gets herself a puppy which she names Grace, finds a friend and starts to think about leaving her husband.
Emily’s mother is also an emotional bully, so it is not surprising that Emily chose someone with a similar personality to marry. I’m not so hard-hearted that I couldn’t feel sorry for Emily, but she voices every anxiety she has, which stops being interesting really quickly. Emily even whined to her best friend at her best friend’s husband’s father’s funeral about her own problems! *
Eventually Emily left her husband and rented a beautiful old farmhouse which she dreams about turning into a B & B. She has the opportunity to buy the farmhouse, but after accepting a very low financial payout from her husband when they separated, she didn’t think she could afford the property (which was actually ridiculously cheap). By the end of the novel, this issue still wasn’t resolved. Nor were any of Emily’s other problems, because the rest of the story is to be dragged out over another two novels.
Several potential heros presented themselves during the second half of the book, but nothing came of them either.
I’ll tell you the biggest reason why I think Emily is dopey, but beware, skip this paragraph if you intend to actually read Saving Grace. Emily’s grandmother had a big jar of buttons with some other funny little stones which no one was ever allowed to touch. Emily’s grandmother died and Emily kept the buttons as a keepsake. Then Emily found an old letter to her grandmother from a Prince (Oooh)who was from a country famous for diamonds. Emily’s grandmother sometimes talked about her diamonds, but no one knows where the diamonds are. I wish someone had asked me, because I think I know where the diamonds are, but believe it or not, by the last page of this bloody book, the diamonds still hadn’t been found.
Hopefully something will actually have happened by the end of the next book or the one after that. Personally though, I don’t care, because I’ll be out in the paddock helping some poor cow give birth.
*If anybody is any good at punctuation, are all of the apostrophes in that sentence right? I’m never quite sure about apostrophes.