Book Review: The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan @headlinepg @HachetteIre @annecater


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 Kingfishers Road discover all the help they need?


I first discovered Emma's books by chance, when I picked up a second-hand copy of Designer Genes in a charity shop. After I turned the last page on that book, I was hooked. I've read almost all her books and followed her brave fight against cancer on social media. She is a woman I admired and one I will always remember.

The circumstances made starting The Gift of Friends almost bittersweet. Knowing those words were her swansong. Every sentence and character somehow felt more special. I read each page slowly, fully taking in her words and wondering how she must have felt as she wrote them. 

The Gift of Friends is a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Each resident on Kingfisher road may seem to be living the dream, because the perfect house equals perfect life, right? We soon learn that this is not the case, that each one is dealing with their own personal struggle. 

Emma did not hold back when describing issues faced by the characters in this book. Abortion. Morality in the church, Spousal abuse. Other reviewers have guessed that Emma had possibly wanted to explore these topics in individual books, but as her time was drawing close, she needed an opportunity to explore them all in one book. Kingfisher Road was that opportunity. Any other author may have struggled to realistically portray so many issues in one book. That certainly wasn't the case here. Each character distinct and authentic. 

My favourite character by far was Nancy. She was the oldest resident in the group. Single, with an 'I don't give a shit about what you think of me' attitude. #goals. 

I loved how each character looked out for each other. They saw their road, not as a place with individual families, but as a community wrapped in a blanket of love and support. 

When I turned the last page, I definitely felt a sense of loss, like there was a hole left in the Irish publishing world. 

Then I read the acknowledgements (written just days before she passed)...and shed more than a few tears. Her message was clear. Love the ones that love you. Nothing else in life is important. 

RIP Emma. 



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