All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum

on March 31, 2017

Finding Hannah
Fiona McCallum
Harlequin AUS
2017, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Hannah Ainsley has the perfect life — an adoring husband, a close relationship with her parents, a wonderful job, and amazing friends. Best of all, it’s Christmas — her favourite day of the whole year! It’s a time to share with her family and friends, and enjoy the festivities.

But this year will be like no other. Tragedy strikes and Hannah’s world is shattered. If she’s going to cope, she’s going to need all the support she can gather and draw on every bit of her strength. Life will never be the same again but it’s soon clear she has no alternative but to pull together a future from the remaining fragments.

As Hannah heads towards the next festive season she will have to make a decision — should she stay with the people who have supported her or should she leave? Could the answer lie in a delayed gift?

Fiona McCallum’s most touching novel so far is a rich tapestry of deep emotions that is sure to capture the hearts of many.

This is another difficult book to review because there isn’t really a bunch of things that happen to construct the plot. It’s about a woman named Hannah who has everything going for her – wonderful parents, great husband who is also a best friend, job she enjoys, lovely house, good close friends. Then on Christmas Day almost everything she loves is taken from her and she’s left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

This is an exploration of a deep grief, the sort of devastation that could easily destroy a person and from that standpoint it’s quite interesting because grief is something that is very individual and it’s something that people experience in very differing ways and to degrees. I haven’t experienced the sort of gut-wrenching loss that Hannah has, thankfully but perhaps because of that I did find it a little hard to immerse myself in the story because that’s basically it. Hannah learning to live again after her loss, learning to cope and take each day at a time, adjust to this new existence that has become her life.

Despite her loss, Hannah still has very good people around her – a supportive boss and his wife, who becomes a friend, as well as a longtime family friend who lives across the road. There are also other wonderful people who provide her with strength, security, love and a sense of family. She is able to take time and space to breathe, reassess, decide what she wants to do. When she’s ready to go back to work, they welcome her although she feels the awkwardness of moments with colleagues who just don’t know what to say to her.

I think everyone has imagined themselves in various horrible scenarios at some stage or other – I know I’ve thought about how I would cope if certain things were to happen and these were things I had to think about realistically as well. They’re things you don’t want to think about but at the same time, they creep in. Books like this are a good way to explore that sort of fear I think, by identifying with characters currently experiencing tragedy. And I think that’s good because grief and loss are an important part of human nature.

But – and this is kind of a big but – I found myself wanting a bit more from this book. A bit more than Hannah just trying to put her life back together. It would probably make quite moving reading for many people but at the same time, it’s also a teeny bit repetitive and not very much really happens throughout the story after that initial tragedy. By the time I had read through 200-odd pages of that, I was ready for a bit more, a conflict or something meaty to flesh out the story. But obviously it wasn’t going to be that sort of story because it was very even in tone, a quiet kind of story, very much character driven rather than plot driven. It was about Hannah’s journey in self-healing.

Because of this, I did find that my attention wandered occasionally whilst I was reading it, especially during the New York section, which felt a bit jarring – I wasn’t sure why it was there because it felt like Hannah could’ve been anywhere. The essence or culture of New York wasn’t really coming across on the page and Hannah’s lack of real enthusiasm, a just ‘going through the motions’ might’ve taught her something but it seemed like such a long and expensive lesson to learn.

Ultimately this one was just an okay read for me – I just found myself seeking more from it and that’s probably on me.

6/10

Book #58 of 2017

Finding Hannah is book #19 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017

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4 responses to “Review: Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum

  1. Thank you for rating this book low enough that I don’t have to worry about reading it!

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