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The First Time I Said Goodbye By Claire Allan

The First Time I Said Goodbye‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ is the latest book by Northern Ireland author, Claire Allan.

In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a US marine based in Derry. Caught up in the whirlwind of romance, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray. But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil and they come to realise that they may have said their first and last goodbye. In 2010, Stella’s daughter Annabel is reeling from the loss of her father, agrees to accompany her mother back to Ireland to meet her family for the first time. In Derry they both start to realise that sometimes you have to say goodbye to what you thought you always wanted, in order to find what you all needed all along.

I have read a few of Claire’s book and I have enjoyed them all, as a local author I always feel I can relate to her, with her dialogue and local humour. Even though I have enjoyed her previous books, I have to admit that ‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ was by far my favourite book by the author and for the first time, her book struck a chord in me that made me cry when the poignant tale came to an end.

‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ is loosely based on a true story that Claire worked on in her job in local newspaper ‘The Derry Journal’. I think the fact that the story is fictional and there are probably a few stories like this that are unheard off make for particularly touching reading.

The story is set in two different eras, the first is Derry 1959 when young Stella Hegarty falls for marine Ray Cooper, they plan their lives together, setting off to Boston and finding their happy ever after but sadly this doesn’t happen for the young couple and fast forward to Florida 2010, Stella decides to return home after her husband’s Bob’s death with her only daughter Annabel.

Unknown to Annabel, she thinks that Stella wants to return to roots after her long absence but infact Stella is hiding a secret for the last fifty years and hopes returning home will finally bring her closure.

As well as set in two eras, the story is seen from both Stella and Annabel’s perspectives which does make the story even more intriguing. Annabel is unhappy with her life, particularly the relationship she is in and hopes that some time apart will help sort out her head. Even though I enjoyed Annabel, I thought she was an interesting character, a lost soul trying to find her place in the world, It was the scenes with Stella that I thought were particularly interesting, as she accounted her short time with her first love through recollections and letters to her sweetheart, all these scenes I thought made for bittersweet and tender reading and gave the tale a beautiful essence of innocence as we joined her become a young woman and experience love for the first time.

A tragically sad and wonderfully romantic story from start to finish, that will have you gripped throughout, ‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ is truly a strong triumph of a story that will have you smiling and laughing and is most definitely Claire Allan at her very finest.

You can buy The First Time I Said Goodbye from Amazonand is available to buy from most good bookshops.

Claire Allan’s New Book – The First Time I Said Goodbye

The First Time I Said GoodbyeYesterday Claire Allan revealed the cover and synopsis to her new book ‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ and by the sounds of it, it is going to be a tearjerker.

The story of ‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ is –

Would you hold on tighter if you knew you were saying goodbye forever?

In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a handsome US marine based in Derry. Caught up in a whirlwind of romance which rivals the great love stories in the movies she so loves, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray.

But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil and they come to realise they may have said their first, and last goodbye.

In 2010, Annabel Jackson, reeling from the loss of her beloved father, agrees to accompany her mother Stella back to Ireland to meet her family for the first time.

As the pair arrive in Derry – they both start to realise that some times you have to say goodbye to what you thought you always wanted in order to find what you have needed all along.

I have enjoyed Claire’s books over the last couple of years. As a local writer I enjoy her stories of love and conflict with the injection of Northern Ireland humour, her books are real page turners and with a particularly beautiful and striking cover, I think ‘The First Time I Said Goodbye’ sounds like a lovely story.

You can pre-order The First Time I Said Goodbye from Amazonand is available to buy from good bookshops from 28th August 2013.

What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted by Claire Allan

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

“What Becomes of The Broken Hearted” is the sixth book by Northern Ireland author, Claire Allan.

Kitty Shanahan. proprietor of The Dressing Room, is very much in love with love but with one simple routine phone call, her perfect life is turned on its head. It’s not easy to help hopeful brides choose their dream dress for their big day when you own heart is in pieces. And it’s hard to know who you can trust when the man you trusted most of all in life suddenly disappears.

Journalist Erin Brannigan knows exactly where the love of her life is. Paddy her fiancé who is battling cancer suddenly turns into Groomzilla planning their forthcoming wedding to the very last detail. When Erin is challenged by her bosses to write about her wedding, Paddy’s cancer and the man who first broke her heart, Erin finds herself caught up in a whirlwind which spins her life far out of control.

Thrown together in the dressing room of the bridal shop, Kitty and Erin find themselves caught up in each other’s lives and wondering if broken hearts can ever be mended.

I have read all of Claire Allan books and to be honest, I felt “What Becomes of The Broken Hearted” has to be her at her very best. From the start I thought it was an riveting book that I seemed unable to put down.

Told as a dual narrative through the eyes of kitty and Erin, it was fascinating to see them both at the most troubled stages of their lives and although they were strangers provided unlikely shoulders for each other to lean on. I found the characters to be genuine interesting people that I actually began to care about them and pray that they would find their happy ever after.

I like that from the very start, Claire introduced us to the problem, with the simple introductory line “The bomb dropped at 4.17p.m. on a Thursday” this line was so powerful and captivating, that immediately I was hooked! This power remained throughout the story, as both Erin and Kitty tackled the problems that had held them back such as insecurity, heartache and illness.

As the story is set in Northern Ireland, I liked the snippets of scenery, culture and colloquialism that I discovered that I often said myself which occasionally made me smile in the regular banter of the sisters and friends of both Kitty and Erin.

“What Becomes of The Broken Hearted” is a wonderfully written and heartfelt story of discovering love, recovering from heartbreak and is definately Claire Allan at her best.

You can buy What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? on Amazon and is available from good bookshops.

Claire Allan’s new book – What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

Northern Irish author, Claire Allan is back with her seventh book from Poolbeg, entitled “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?”

The story is:

Kitty Shanahan, proprietor of The Bridal Nook, is very much in love with love. But a routine phone-call turns her seemingly perfect life on its head. It’s not easy to help hopeful brides choose their dream dresses when your heart is in pieces.

Journalist Erin Brannigan knows exactly where the love of her life is. Paddy, who happens to be battling cancer. has turned into a ‘Groomzilla’ – planning their forthcoming wedding to the very last detail. . When she is challenged by her bosses to write about her forthcoming wedding, Paddy’s cancer battle and the man who first broke her heart, she finds herself caught up in a whirlwind which spins far out of her control.

Thrown together in the elegant dressing rooms of ‘The Bridal Nook’ Kitty and Erin find themselves caught up in each other’s lives and wondering if broken hearts can ever be mended?

With such a pretty cover. this book is guaranteed to be a sweet treat.

You can pre-order What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? on Amazon and is available from good bookshops from August 29th 2012.

If Only You Knew by Claire Allan

If Only You Knew

“If Only You Knew” is the fifth book by Derry author, Claire Allan.

Cousins Ava and Hope hardly know each other. The only thing they know for sure is that they have nothing in common. Sensible and married Ava looks like she has everything under control but only she knows the truth and Hope is disappointed that the glamerous life that she had expected when she became a journalist hasn’t happened, whilst her best friend and housemate is completely unaware that she is head over heels in love with him.

The girls are oblivious of one-another, until one day their Aunt Betty dies. They didn’t really know Betty, as she was the black sheep of the Scott family and had moved to France to start a new life with her husband. In her will, Betty asks for both Ava and Hope to fly out to Saint Jeannet, to sort out the last of her belongings and fulfill her last wishes.

To guide them on their way on this unexpected adventure, Betty has left them a series of letters, detailing them of her life and her decision to move to France with her beloved husband Claude.

As the girls discover each letter, they not only discover some home truths about their long last aunt but realise that their own lives are not what they seem, as the girls get to know each other and realise that they have more in common than they initially thought.

“If Only You Knew” is a lovely read by local author Claire Allan, that warms you from the cockles of your heart to the tips of your toes as you join the girls on their french adventure, filled with the discovery of new friends and secrets that will change their lives forever. A lovely bittersweet Autumn read.

You can buy If Only You Knew on Amazon and other good bookshops.