2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: Her Time to Shine by Fiona McCallum

Title: Her Time to Shine

Author: Fiona McCallum

Published: March 30th 2022

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 432

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

Sometimes serendipity comes knocking, and life leads us to the most surprising places …

It’s never too late to find your true self.

While very pretty, the tiny town of Melrose isn’t where Erica thought she’d be at almost fifty. And working in a funeral home and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, while navigating her grief as a recent widow, is not how she thought her life would look either. But she’s committed to her lovely new boss, Walter, who gave her a chance when she so desperately needed it.

Erica’s friends and daughters back in Adelaide cheer her on as she discovers a genuine love for her new job, forms friendships and immerses herself in the local community. But why is she being plagued with fresh bouts of anxiety and flashes of partial memories of her brother Mark who died when she was eleven? Why is there so much about him she doesn’t know and can’t remember? And why does it feel like it’s more about her than him?

But she has to put it all aside when, despite being happy and settled, Erica is suddenly called upon to step up and face her deepest fear. If she can, what will she discover about herself and her past? And what will it mean for her future?

From Australia’s master storyteller, a tender story about finding strength and fulfilment after major upheaval, and discovering you can only outrun your true calling for so long …

Review:

One of our country’s most giving storytellers returns with the follow-on novel to last year’s well-regarded release, A Trick of Light. Her Time to Shine continues lead character Erica’s journey of self-discovery, acceptance and awakening. Filled with vital life sentiments, Her Time to Shine is a tender novel.

A story of happenstance opportunities in life and embracing your true talents, Her Time to Shine is the heart-warming new novel from Fiona McCallum. The action is situated in a small South Australian country town called Melrose. We are reacquainted with Erica, a widow who is trying to gain the upper hand over her life after a huge upheaval in her circumstances. Now dealing with menopause and a new career in a funeral home, Erica continues to grapple with her mental health following a traumatic experience back in the city. Despite this residual trauma and the grief that surrounds Erica following the loss of her husband, life is finally improving for this gentle woman. With the support of her new boss Walter and the local community fold of Melrose, Erica is ready to move on with her life. However, when Erica is plagued by a series of flashbacks involving her deceased brother Mark, she is sent on a journey to find out what really happened to him all those years ago. It is a tough journey travelled and Erica is forced to confront aspects of her past that will have a direct impact on her future. Can Erica embrace this new version of herself?

It’s hard to believe that Her Time to Shine is bestselling Australian author Fiona McCallum’s fourteenth novel. Over the last ten years I have embraced this intuitive author’s releases and I don’t think there is a Fiona McCallum book that I haven’t read. This latest novel is a sequel of sorts to last year’s release A Trick of Light. It was a warm and welcoming feeling to return to familiar ground with this appealing lead.

Drawing on some pertinent themes such as mental health, PTSD, anxiety, women’s health, grief, loss and life changes, Fiona McCallum takes a serious glance at these important issues. Taking both a respectful and informative approach to highlighting the core conflicts at the heart of these common life matters, Her Time to Shine is an affirming piece of contemporary fiction. Lead character Erica never makes any excuses for her feelings, emotions and responses to the problems she faces. I think the audience will embrace Erica with a sense of ease. For those who have already met Erica in the previous book, this new story grounds the reader yet again in Erica’s very personal journey. Many of the details, events and dialogue included in Her Time to Shine is very intimate. Erica leaves her life fairly open for us to follow as she learns to embrace her changed life situation, move on from her past trauma and discover more about her family history.  The resulting story is filled with surprises, declarations, truths and affirmations that the audience will find gratifying.

Alongside the main protagonist of this tale are a bevy of realistic and likeable side characters. Friendship, connection and a rich sense of community pervades this tale. We witness the firsthand support system of the tiny town of Melrose via the characters of Walter, Jimmy and Bruce the dog. The animal character of Bruce plays an essential role in Erica’s healing journey, which was a touching aspect of the narrative. Family support systems also come into play in Her Time to Shine as Erica’s daughters continue to display concern and care for their mother as she embarks on new chapter in her life. The family relations component of this tale is covered well by Fiona McCallum. The mystery involving Erica’s deceased brother Mark also makes for an interesting read. I did have a few more questions about this area of the story. However, the metamorphosis process of Erica is handled well and I liked the direction this section of the novel seemed to take, I didn’t expect it at all.

Her Time to Shine is wrapped up nicely, with an opportunity to possibly continue lead character Erica’s personal growth story into another book. We’ll see what Fiona McCallum presents us with next, I’ll be waiting!

Her Time to Shine by Fiona McCallum was published on 30th March 2022 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Her Time to Shine, Fiona McCallum, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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