I’m honoured to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the heartwarming and poignant The Gift of Friends, the final book by acclaimed Irish author Emma Hannigan who sadly passed away in 2018. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for the invitation and to Headline Books for providing me with my copy of this emotional and beautifully written book. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to read and review it as part of the blog tour.
About the book:
From the Number One bestselling author Emma Hannigan comes her new novel, The Gift of Friends, a magical story of love, friendship and hope.
Kingfisher Road – a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?
Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems…
In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.
But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need?
About the author:
Emma Hannigan was the beloved and bestselling author of many novels and a memoir. Letters to my Daughters, her twelfth novel, spent five weeks at Number One in the Original Fiction bestseller chart in Ireland on publication in 2018. The Perfect Gift and The Wedding Promise were also Number One bestsellers in Ireland. The Secrets We Share won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Epic Romantic Novel award. Emma won Woman of the Year in the literature category of the Irish Tatler Women of the Year awards and was shortlisted twice for an Irish Book award. Emma published her bestselling memoir Talk to the Headscarf in 2011, which was updated and extended in 2017 as All to Live For: Fighting Cancer. Finding Hope and was a top ten bestseller in Ireland.
In 2005, Emma discovered that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation which carries an 85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer. In 2007 she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time and her eleven-year battle with cancer began. As an ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland Emma worked hard to dispel the fears around cancer and spread hope about new treatments.
In February 2018 Emma shared with her readers that her dedicated team of doctors had exhausted all avenues in terms of her treatment. In Emma’s final days, she launched a social media campaign #HelpEmmaHelpOthers to raise €100,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland. Two weeks later, shortly before her death, Emma’s target had been reached. In the final months of her life, despite the limitations of her illness, Emma completed her thirteenth novel, The Gift of Friends, sending her acknowledgements to her editor just days before she passed away.
It’s difficult to write a review of a book like this one when you’re aware that the author shared the last months of her life with these characters, bringing them so vividly and movingly to life on the page. I think most of us, especially women, can relate in some way to at least one of the characters in The Gift of Friends. I know I certainly could.
This is a book about friendship and what it can mean to have a close network of people surrounding you in your time of need. It’s about the secrets we keep close to our chests and what a difference it can make to share them with those closest to you.
Emma Hannigan’s final book is a beautiful, moving and poignant story about love, friendship and hope. About what it means to be alive and how important it is to make the most of every day. It’s the story of Betsy, Pearl, Maia, Nancy and Danielle, women from completely different backgrounds who you would never expect to become friends. But in spite of their differences, becoming neighbours on Kingfisher Road has bound them together in ways you would never expect.
They all have their own personal stories of heartache, each believing that they’re the only one keeping a secret and that their neighbours lives are so perfect. But nothing could be further from the truth, and as the women open up to one another they come to realise the importance of friendship and how they are not quite as alone as they thought they were.
There is a wonderful and varied cast of characters in this book, some a lot nicer than others, but it is the women of Kingfisher Road that this story is about. They come from very different backgrounds, with a wide spectrum of life experiences between them. I loved them all, but it was Pearl who moved me the most as I could relate to her experience of bringing up a disabled child, with the wide range of emotions that go along with that, not least of which is the unbridled joy your child can bring into your life. And how the acceptance of others can mean so much, especially in the difficult transition from child to young adult. Some parts of Pearl’s story were difficult for me to read, but made me realise how lucky I am to have such a supportive network of family and friends around me.
It has been an honour and a privilege to have been able to read Emma Hannigan’s final book and I felt bereft when the final page had been turned. Spending time with the characters she breathed life into in her final days was an experience that filled me with indescribable emotion, especially when I read her final acknowledgements at the end of the book, which made the story an even more moving and poignant one.
The Gift of Friends is a beautifully written and heartwarming book that’s full to the brim of all the things that make life so wonderful. It’s full of laughter and tears, ups and downs, love and friendship. It’s a book that leaves you feeling warm and fulfilled as you turn the final page and I’m so glad that Emma was able to share it with us.
A beautiful, moving and poignant read I would highly recommend.
Thank you for the gift of your words, Emma. May you rest in peace.
The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan is available to buy now: Amazon UK
Check out the rest of the blog tour to see what these other fabulous bloggers have to say: