Friday 20 February 2015

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan

Clara Conway is a woman with secrets.
But consequently Clara's family is in the process of falling apart. Her son Max emigrated to the US with his young family years ago and she has yet to meet her teenage granddaughter, Nathalie ... because Max and his mother no longer speak.
Meanwhile Clara's daughter  Ava is fighting to find a little happiness and when Clara unexpectedly reaches out to Nathalie and her niece comes to visit, her thoughts turn to Max, the brother she loved and lost. The brother whose abrupt disappearance left the Conway family heartbroken.
Can Nathalie's time with her grandmother start to right some very old wrongs? And can Clara find a way to reach out to Max and thereby begin to heal the whole family once more?
After all, some secrets are meant to be shared ...

The Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan is published by Headline on 9 April 2015 and is the author's ninth novel.

I really enjoy fiction written by Irish women authors, I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes, Patricia Scanlan, Sheila O Flanagan, Anna McPartlin, and there are many many more. I've no idea how I've missed Emma Hannigan's writing in the past, but I'm delighted that I've discovered her through this wonderful novel and I'm quite excited that there are another eight of her books out there for me to read.

The Secrets We Share is the story of a family, and is led by Clara Conway. Clara is eighty, she's been a successful business woman, a devoted wife and a loving mother. Her family have had their problems over the years, and Clara decides that it's time to finally lay things to rest.

Clara's son Max left home over twenty years ago and has never returned. His sister Ava is a troubled, unhappy woman who exudes style and glamour on the outside, but inside she is battling with many demons. Ava was hurt dreadfully when Max left, and finds it difficult to forgive him for the heartbreak his departure caused.

When Clara tracks down Max and his family in America and discovers that she has a seventeen-year-old grand daughter Nathalie, she becomes determined to heal the rifts that have torn apart her family.

Nathalie herself is troubled; she is grieving and confused, and the last thing she expected was to hear from a grandmother who she thought had died many years before. Nor does she want to travel from stylish LA to some back street town in rural Ireland. Despite her fears and her objections, Nathalie arrives at her grandmother's house, and she and Clara start to get to know each other.

Nathalie does not just find her living relatives, she also uncovers secrets from Clara's past. Secrets that have been hidden for many years and that have shaped this family, and caused the rift.

I become totally engrossed in this story which on the face of it appears to be a fairly light read, and whilst it is a very easy read, the author deals with some hard-hitting and sensitive issues, giving the story a depth that I really did not expect.

Emma Hannigan's writing is warm and sincere, she loosely based the plot of The Secrets We Share on her own family history, and the realism and authenticity of her story shines through.

The characters who populate the story are wonderful; Clara is wise, yet sad, she knows that she has made mistakes over the years, and that her actions have caused harm, yet she has learned from this and is determined to make things right. She is quirky and funny and a little bit over the top. Clara's daughter Ava was possibly my favourite character; a complex woman who has hidden depths that she hides from everyone, even herself. Ava stumbles from one disaster to another, never learning and dogged in her desire never to be hurt again. Nathalie is bright and enquiring, she is sad and confused, but has inherited her grandmother's wise ways.

The Secrets We Share is emotional, endearing and very enjoyable. Emma Hannigan is a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed this story so very much.

My thanks to Lovereading who sent my copy for review.

Emma Hannigan is the author of nine bestselling novels including Keeping Mum and a bestelling memoir, Talk to the Headscarf which charted her journey through cancer. 

Emma lives in Bray, Ireland, with her husband and two children.

For more about Emma, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @MsEmmaHannigan.

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