In brief: The second book in the Button Jar series follows Emily as she tries to rebuild her life – but there’s no way she could have seen this happening…
The good: Ends on a more uplifting note than Saving Grace.
The not-so-good: Poor Emily really needs an injection of confidence (although she is getting stronger).
Why I chose it: I liked the realistic heroine Emily in Saving Grace, so I was very pleased when offered it by Harlequin.
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Setting: Australia (mainly rural South Australia)
My rating: 8 out of 10
Last year (almost to the day), I read Saving Grace by Fiona McCallum and was impressed with the story of Emily, an everyday girl who has lost all confidence after a marriage breakdown and an overly critical mother. Emily’s not your typical heroine (she’s not feisty or quick to make decisions) but the gentle story finished on an uplifting note as it seemed her fortunes were about the change. Time Will Tell brings more challenges for Emily, many completely unexpected and took the narrative in a direction I didn’t expect when I finished Saving Grace.
Time Will Tell is the second book in the Button Jar series, called that because of the attachment Emily has to a jar of odd buttons her gran gave her and also because there’s a secret contained in the jar. The book could be read as a standalone, although you will gain a much better insight into Emily’s life by reading Saving Grace first. I thought that Time Will Tell would be about the discovery of the windfall in the button jar, Emily renovating her dream house, starting up a business and having a new love in her life. I was mainly wrong about that, as Fiona McCallum throws even more curve balls into Emily’s life which has her life change again during the book.
The book opens in the lead up to Christmas. Emily’s always had a difficult relationship with her mother, who is always critical and never happy. Thanks to her new friend Barbara, Emily’s starting to stand up to her mother and not be a ‘yes’ girl. We can see this change in Emily as she refuses to have a boarder in Nathan, the new assistant bank manager (who her mother tried to set her up with). (I’m not sure what Nathan’s agenda is – showing up at Emily’s house on Christmas Day uninvited is just weird. Is he attracted to her, although he denies it?) Emily also refused to kowtow to her mother when she declares she can’t come for Christmas lunch. Emily is now secure in her father’s love, friendship with Barbara and her husband David and growing friendship with Jake. She now has a great opportunity to buy the house she lives in and after a lot of discussion and rumination; she’s going to do it.
But then things go pear shaped again for Emily – can this girl not get a break? Various tragic events unfold and she’s back to square one. Will she crumble and fold after altercations with Barbara and Jake? Or will Emily be strong enough to face the drama and change it into opportunities?
If you know Emily from the previous book, you know that her confidence was knocked for six and she’s well…a ditherer. She has trouble making big decisions and deliberates on them constantly, to the expense of sleep. This did get on my nerves a bit (and I think it did on Barbara’s too, because she often says to Emily to trust in the universe). Emily’s also being told quite a bit that ‘time will tell’, hence the title. However, I’m happy to accept this as Emily doesn’t fit the usual mould of feisty, independent heroine who kicks butt, has some casual sex and gains the world, job and man. Emily’s much more realistic – she doesn’t have a job or degree, she has very little cash and she definitely doesn’t know where she’s going or likely to end up. Her relationships are complex too, as in this book circumstances and arguments leave her on her own, too stubborn to apologise (because it’s not her fault!). But it’s through this lonesome time that Emily gains strength and some confidence. She no longer needs her friends to prop her up – this time she’s going to get it right with her own judgement. (I also feel a bit of a soft spot for Emily as we have the same birthday).
I’m looking forward to the next book (released in November 2014) as I think McCallum has a few more shocks for Emily. This book ended on a positive note for Emily in terms of romance (I loved how the book was about Emily’s journey rather than romance), but I foresee some issues in where she will live and what she’s going to do with her life. Plus, will the contents of the Button Jar have any more relevance? I’m also thinking that someone might be pregnant (there’s a couple of vague hints)…are my thoughts correct? Time will tell in November!