Green Giants! Book Review: The Secrets We Share by Emma Hanningan

April 20, 2015 Book review, Green Giants 17 ★★★★½

Green Giants is my feature where I share some of my favourite books by Irish Authors.   I’m passionate about Irish Authors, they supply us with a great and exciting mix of books, hopefully you will find something new to try.  Today it’s Emma Hannigan who is my latest Green Giant.  I’ve heard lots of positive praise for this author in the past and now I know why.

green giants

A book full of clandestine family secrets is a book that is always going to call out to me.   So the secrets hooked me in but then the writing and the characters kept me enthralled from beginning to end.

Green Giants! Book Review: The Secrets We Share by Emma HanninganThe Secrets We Share by Emma Hannigan
Published by Headline Book Publishing on April 9th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Family Life
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Bookbridgr, Received from Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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 daughters, Giselle and Ava are each fighting to find a little happiness and when Clara unexpectedly reaches out to Nathalie and their niece comes to visit, their thoughts turn to Max, the brother they 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 ...

First Line of The Secrets We Share by Emma Hanningan:

“Clara paused, laying down her pen on the soft cream paper for a moment, unsure of how to go on.”

My thoughts on The Secrets We Share by Emma Hanningan

I absolutely loved The Secrets We Share.  It made me care about every single character and evoked feelings of warmth and hope as I read it.  It’s a multi-generational read and the three main characters are :

Clara – who is Austrian/Irish, the grandmother who is wonderfully blunt but also hugely loving

Ava – her daughter who is prickly and troubled and keeping secrets of her own

Nathalie – Clara’s estranged American granddaughter who was blissfully unaware that her father’s family even lived in Ireland

Clara finds out where her son is living and extends an invite for her granddaughter to visit for a while to Ireland.  After some uncomfortable, awkward initial beginnings, these three women begin to bond as they are more alike than they are different.  All are artistic, plain speaking, strong women with lots and lots of gumption and seeing them rebuild their family made for a warm-hearted read.

I loved the format of the books and the secrets are slowly revealed though old letters.  It was so tantalising to just get a little bit of the story and then to have wait for the next letter to get another morsel but they were also very emotional so I was also glad it was done this way as it was less overwhelming.  I was so intrigued by what the letters revealed and by trying to piece it all together that I just flew though the book.  So the pace rocked for me.

The themes of reconciliation, forgiveness and moving on added a feel-good factor to the book and I was very moved at times by the writing and wisdom that this book contains.  I know it’s one that I’d be happy to read again someday as I think I have a lot I could learn from these characters.  But don’t worry it’s not a preachy book, full of too-good-to-be-true characters, it’s because they are so realistically imperfect that I loved them.

There is also a nice bit of humour in the book which is something I also appreciate and it adds balance to the poignant plot.  Most of it courtesy of Clara and no nonsense approach to life, I loved how candid she is.

Overall this one gets a very animated thumbs up from me and I know I’ll be treating myself to some more  books from this author very, very soon.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read The Secrets We Share by Emma Hanningan?

Do you like books about old family secrets, engrossing characters and all the warm-hearted feels?  If so, then this is the book for you.  Fans of authors such as Cathy Kelly, Patricia Scanlan and Sheila O’Flanagan should also enjoy.

Thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline Review for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.







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17 Responses to “Green Giants! Book Review: The Secrets We Share by Emma Hanningan”

    • trish

      Oh just letters scattered throughout. The rest is normal novel structure. As you can tell I really enjoyed it and loved the feel that the old letters added to the plot.

    • trish

      Aw, hopefully it will come out for US readers too and then you can snag it! It’s definitely one of top reads so far this year.

  1. Wattle

    I just had to add this one to my list, it sounds a bit different from what I usually read. I’m a nerd and love books that reveal things through letters and things like that, it feels more…intimate that way, I guess. Like you’re peeking at someones private mail!
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: Wait! by Stacey Nash

    • trish

      This is definitely the way you feel reading this. And the person reading the letters is sneaking them out to read them so that adds to the vibe too! It’s a very enjoyable read 🙂

    • trish

      I really need to get Emma’s other books, I think my sister might even have them. Safe to say I’m a fan now 🙂

  2. Lola

    This sounds like a great book with likable characters! It doesn’t happen often I really like all the characters in a book. Clara the grandmother sounds like a fun character, I often like the granmother characters in books. And the way the secrets are revealed through letters sounds done very well.
    Lola recently posted…Review: Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

    • trish

      I LOVED Clara, she was a scream and very non stereotypical. And the letters added a nostalgic feel to the book that worked so well.

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