Friday, 7 August 2015

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan


Published in paperback by Headline Review on Thursday 13 August 2015. 

I would like to thank the publisher for my copy of this book, via bookbridgr, I return for an honest review.  

Clara Conway has recently lost her husband and hasn't seen or been in contact with her son, Max, in over two decades. She is desperate to make amends with her son and hires a private investigator to help find him. She is shocked to learn of the life that Max has made for himself in America. He is now the head surgeon in a hospital in Los Angeles. She is also very shocked to hear that he has a wife and a seventeen year old daughter called Nathalie. Desperate to meet the Granddaughter she never knew she had, Clara writes to Nathalie asking her to make contact. Meanwhile, Nathalie is facing her own struggle, she has recently been involved in car crash, which caused the death of her best friend, Mackenzie. Struggling to cope with her grief, Nathalie finds herself on a plane to Ireland to stay with her Grandmother, who she thought all her life to be dead. Now that the family are reunited, they need to try to find a way to work through their problems and reconnect as a family before it is too late.  

I have read Emma Hannigan's earlier books, which I have really enjoyed. However, I have not read any of her most recent novels, until now. I loved this book from start to finish, so much so, that I have moved the rest of her most recent books to the top of my to be read pile. 

The cover for the paperback edition of this book is absolutely beautiful. The beautiful pattern on the China tea cups is striking against the pale blue background of the sky and the sea. It catches your eye immediately with its beautiful summer colours. It will instantly make you want to pick this book up and find out what it is about. 

This book has easily some of the most beautifully written and developed characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. Each character has gone through struggles in their lives. Clara is a typical Grandmother figure, she loves baking and quilting. She has just turned eighty and she has had so many struggles in her life. She has just lost her darling husband, Gus, and is trying her best to come to terms with her grief. She is likable from the very first page and is a beautifully written character. She shows on various occasions throughout the book how she is strong enough to deal with whatever cards life deals her and she need to be admired for the amount of times she has picked herself up, dusted herself down and simply got on with life. At first, I thought Max to be a very cold character, and I didn’t really warm to him, however, as the book progressed, his character really develops into a loving father, husband, brother and son. Clara's daughter, Ava, has also had to deal with her fair share of tragedy. She appears to be a very unhappy person at the beginning of the book. She is a character that has thrown herself into her work and is afraid to fall in love, because she is afraid that she will be hurt again, like she was in the past. However, as the book develops, Ava realises that she wants more than this from her life and she really develops as a person. Nathalie, is one of the most beautifully written characters I have ever come across. The way she transforms from a grief stricken teenager to the lovely, kind, caring young woman she turns into at the end of the book is beautiful. Although the journey Nathalie goes on throughout the book is a long and hard one, it is very enlightening to go on that journey with her. The characters of Sean and Conor, are also very well written and very likable. I found myself really liking these two characters and I felt they added that little something to give the book that extra bit of sparkle. Max's wife, Amber, was probably my least favourite character. Even though I liked her, I felt that she didn't add very much to the story. 

The Secrets We Share is full to the brim with emotions. It covers topics like, marriage breakdown, grief and family fueds. It made me laugh and cry in the turn of the page. I loved that I was able to go on a journey with each character. At the start of the book, each character seems a little bit lost and sad, but as the story progresses, the characters seem to come into their own and fins each other again, bringing with them joy and happiness.  

I adored how Emma Hannigan added the subplot of Hannah and Lukas's story. This was told through Nathalie reading letters that Hannah wrote to Lukas during the second World War, which she found in Clara's sewing room. The story is utterly heartbreaking and left me with tears in my eyes. The letters were all beautifully written and breathtakingly beautiful. I also liked how this story also helped us to understand Clara and her background a bit better.  

At the start of the book, you are told that something bad happened in the past to make Max flee to America. In most books, I would be on the edge of my seat second guessing myself about what this was, but that didn't happen with this book. I was on the edge of my seat, but for a different reason entirely. This book just grabbed me and pulled me in and I could do nothing except go with the flow and let the beautifully lyrical writing take over me.  

I read this book in one sitting, on a dark and drizzly afternoon, and I can think of no better way to have spent the evening. Even though this book kept me company in the cold Irish weather, I also think this would be a brilliant beach read. This book is utterly breathtaking with an air of mystery throughout. The many twists and turns keep you turning the pages. This book is simply unputdownable. It is an absolute must read and I can't recommend it enough.


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