Book Club: Finding Hannah

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Author: Fiona McCallum
ISBN: 9781489220365
RRP: $29.99

Fiona McCallum is an Australian author with her ninth novel just released. I have read the majority of her novels, I think there’s 2 I need to catch up on, and they have all had a rural setting though not necessarily a strong romance theme. Finding Hannah is similar in that it is a story of friendship, healing and facing the aftermath of trauma but this one is set in Melbourne which is far from rural.

I didn’t do any real research before jumping at the chance to book club Finding Hannah because I have enjoyed Fiona’s earlier books so knew that I wanted to read it. I did read the blurb before I picked up the book so I knew that we were in for a tragedy but I still wasn’t expecting to be hit quite so hard with it. And really that’s all I can say without spoilers because I don’t want to impact on other readers experiences and make it less powerful by preparing them.

Hormones make me emotional, and they make me crazy (crazier if you ask my husband). So reading this four and a half weeks post-partum may not have been the best idea. It made me very emotional and definitely increased the crazy factor. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad read or a bad story; it was just a very powerful story that touched me.

Sometimes I think the measure of a good story is one that makes you think and makes you put yourself in a similar situation. I couldn’t imagine myself all the way into Hannah’s situation but the story certainly made me think about a couple of things in my life.

Finding Hannah is a book that is going to hit you right in the emotional soft spot. This is heart shattering grief that could easily destroy you.

A story that opens with such positive optimism and festive cheer, only to have it all destroyed in the very first chapter. Hannah is beyond shattered and doesn’t know how she will go on. Fortunately her best friend Sam is on hand when her world falls apart, and she stays with her. Hannah has a beautiful support network around her to help her get through but sometimes it seems that all the support on offer isn’t going to be enough.

Finding Hannah takes us on a roller-coaster ride through the hell that is the first year of grief with Hannah Ainsley as she learns to live again after a soul destroying tragedy. It is a story of the strength and support of strong friendships and building new friendships; and learning to create a new life out of the ashes of grief. Nothing will ever be the same again so you don’t just get back to normal but you find your way to a new normal, a normal you can live with and smile through.

I find McCallum’s writing quite simple, I’m not sure that’s the best word for what I’m trying to say but it’s late and I’m hormonal. The way McCallum writes means that this book that was such a heavy and heartbreaking story was still a light read.

This is a really good read that I enjoyed and that I would recommend, but I would suggest you be aware it could definitely hold some triggers for readers.

Finding Hannah is book #15 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Fiona McCallum can be found on Facebook and her website.

Finding Hannah is published by Harlequin Mira and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Finding Hannah so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

19 thoughts on “Book Club: Finding Hannah

  1. Thankyou so much for the opportunity to read Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum. I was very touched by this story, having never had to endure any heartache anywhere near the serverity that Hannah experienced , she pulled at my heartstrings. Time after time I wondered could this woman stand another rush of pain.
    I grew very fond of Hannah and her loyal friends who helped her so much,and it was heartwarming to read as she got stronger. All through I was sure it would be a dog that would eventually be her companion……surprise!! Not so.
    I would like to know the same Hannah in five or ten years time as I’m sure she would be happy ,alone or together with someone, , but happy..

  2. Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum was a very emotional read. I was constantly bursting into tears up until about page 90 – which made reading quite hard through tear filled eyes! I knew from the blurb on the back of the book that a tragedy was going to occur, which I picked up on immediately when Tristan left the house, but I didn’t expect it to make me so emotional.

    The story begins with Hannah and her husband Tristan waking up on Christmas morning – both love this time of year and their day of celebration with family and friends was just beginning. But as soon as Tristan left to pick up her parents, I knew something was going to go horribly wrong. What happens next turns Hannah’s life upside down, inside out, and we follow her through every single stage. Luckily she has her best friend Sam and husband Rob to help piece her back together (their twins are incredibly adorable and well written), as well as Auntie Beth who is such a pillar of strength. Tristans parents also come into the story, and I love that they get along so well with Hannah and were able to move through this all together. I really think Fiona wrote the friendships in quite well – as not to forget Caitlin, Joanne, Jasmine and Craig.

    From the beginning of the horrible event we are thrust into Hannahs emotions of disbelief, grief and sadness. I felt like I was right there with her, going through her waking up in the middle of the night to remembering what happened, and seeing the news footage on the TV, to visiting the funeral home and going through her parents house. Although it is incredibly sad, the writing that Fiona has done makes it easy to read through. As Hannah starts to move on in her life the months after the accident, we see putting two steps forward but occasionally taking a step back when something reminds her of them, or something out of the blue happens to jolt her somewhat happy day from her. It was good to read what she was doing to help heal, and how to deal with situations she would have been with her husband before – like going grocery shopping together or visiting their favourite coffee shop. I liked her finding new friends, and realising the ones who are there for her – they were really written with love, and their compassion for Hannah and helping her was lovely.

    I kept waiting for something bad to happen again as I was reading as that’s something usual in books, but I realised the story was about her journey forward, I understood that’s what was to happen – Hannah discovering new things for herself and learning to live as the months went on. As I got towards the end of the book I reflected on how far she had come and it made me happy. The encounter with the animals as the end it made me smile (although I thought there might have been a hint of a new romance, but I also understood why Hannah did what she did). The very last page with the dialogue and interaction between Hannah and Auntie Beth had me feeling happy for her, and left the story with a nice uplifting note, and really summed up the ending.

    At the beginning of reading this book, if you would have asked me would I recommend it, I probably would have said no – I cried a lot, I was sad and I felt really down for Hannah. But after finishing it, and reflecting on the story as a whole and the lessons and friends that happened along her journey, I would recommend it. Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace for letting me review Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum.

  3. The unthinkable occurs at the start of “Finding Hannah.” The eponymous character’s husband and parents are tragically killed in a car accident on Christmas day. Hannah is naturally heartbroken.

    Fiona McCallum has penned an emotionally-charged story that deals with Hannah’s various stages of grief in detail and how she rebuilds her life after such a devastating loss. The book is a subtle and nuanced one that is like a love letter to friendship. It’s also a story that feels a bit like a character study sort of film on death and dying.

  4. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace for selecting me to read Finding Hannah written by Fiona McCallum
    I absolutely loved this book
    Hannah Ainsley and her husband have a wonderful life when tragedy strikes ( not saying anymore don’t want to spoil for readers )
    Hannah has to cope with this tragedy lucky she has some amazing friends to help her as well as a Auntie Beth who lives across the street, Auntie Beth bought back so many memories for myself as I also had a auntie ( not family )
    The title of the book is exactly right as it is all about Hannah finding herself after the horrific tragedy
    This book isn’t sad all the way through there are some really nice moments that will make the reader smile
    Once again I congratulate Fiona McCallum for a excellent book which I personally think will be a best seller

  5. “Finding Hannah” was a surprisingly difficult novel for me to read – I think because it depicted so many of the iterations of grief so very well. I have read many novels with grief as a theme, but none of them had so many triggers for me as this one. And that’s despite the fact that the loss Hannah is grieving is very different to mine.

    Hannah Ainsley appears to have it all – a loving marriage, a strong relationship with her parents, great friends, and a job she likes. She’s young enough that the future stretches before her enticingly, with more good things to come. And then, on her favourite day of the year – Christmas Day – tragedy strikes her, and suddenly her life becomes about picking up the pieces.

    One of the strengths of this novel is that so many people in Hannah’s life have lost someone they loved, in a variety of different circumstances, which allows McCallum to explore the different ways people experience and deal with grief. This is not as sad as it sounds; most people do have to face up to this at some point in their lives, and most eventually cope. McCallum is good at highlighting both the commonalities in the experience of grief, and some of the differences.

    McCallum has a sensitive touch, dealing with this difficult theme in a way that is both grounded and gentle. I do think that if you’ve experienced a loss recently, you might find this difficult to read, due to the depths of emotion in it, and the perceptiveness about some of the more agonising aspects of grief. On the other hand, if you want to help someone who’s experienced a loss, this will give you a lot of insight into some of what they may be feeling or experiencing.

    The characterisations are strong and believable. Most readers will empathise with Hannah, but they’ll also understand the people who surround her. The story flows well, and is written in a style that’s easy to immerse yourself in and read quite quickly; you’ll get drawn in.

    Although the plot isn’t anything particularly surprising or original, this is a powerful novel which is memorable for its’ strong emotional impact. It’s an absorbing read, and a satisfying one, with depths that become more obvious as you finish reading.

    I highly recommend “Finding Hannah” – this novel is likely to be appreciated by a very wide audience.

  6. First of all, I can`t believe it took about a decade of rejections before someone published Fiona McCallum books but thanks to her persistance we can now relish n her wonderful books.
    I would certainly let my fluff bunnies turn into tumble weeds for this book, (not that I had to cause I read it in under 3 days) would have been quicker because I loved it that much but I am a fuss pot like Hannah and her mum was.
    While this book was packed with emotion, the flow of the book was perfect and it did make me think about what I have got now and how I should maybe not be so uptight about every little thing.
    I liked the sound of the ladybugs, would love one myself but also wondered where her husband and parents had really organised them to go for a holiday. Was it really New York? I only say that because no one seemed to associate the ladybug with New York.
    I do wonder if we have a sequel as I would love to know if she eventually would become goodfriends with Charlie`s owner Pete.
    I have read a book by Fiona McCallum not long ago and that was also wonderful and I think she is extremely talented and also is so wonderful to know she lives in Adelaide as well as there are a few talented writers here that I have heard of and think it`s great.
    Thanks to B&Lace, Harlequin and Fiona McCallum on taking us on a journey with a message xo

  7. Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum was a really heart breaking story to read. It is a beautiful book about grief and loss and the experiences one goes through during the first year. It kept me turning the pages as it is extremely well written and consuming. There were strong friendships portrayed with a few surprises in the read. A story that was written with emotionally fueled moments within. I needed a box of tissues nearby.

  8. I’ve been a fan of Fiona McCallum’s books for many years and, like the rest, Finding Hannah drew me in and wouldn’t let me go until the last word. This tale of loss and of learning to stand on your own two feet is beautifully written and paced, as Fiona takes the reader along the journey of tragedy at a speed that makes you feel like you’re there with Hannah experiencing what she is experiencing.
    Finding Hannah begins with tragedy on Christmas Day. The day used to be a time of great job and of being surrounded by family and friends for Hannah, but she soon learns that memories are more precious than material items or certain days on the calendar and I enjoyed seeing her grow. I found her character to be a little sheltered, which she admitted throughout the book and I didn’t like that she wasn’t an animal lover, as I can’t understand how anyone couldn’t be, but she redeems herself and becomes a character I could admire for her strength and resilience.
    I feel that Fiona has experienced all the emotions that Hannah experiences in this book as the writing came through as so authentic and true to what someone going through major loss would be feeling. There was no part of the story that I felt was not real or too far-fetched to be believable, which only added to the beauty of this story.
    This is not a book I would recommend you just sit down with for a lazy Sunday read; it is one that needs to have time and emotion invested in it as it is so heavy for at least the first half of the book, but for the story to ring true, it needs to be this way. Another friend reading this book had to put it down and come back to it a few times as the sadness affected her so much.
    Another great book from Fiona as she brings her characters and places to life on the page and in the minds of her readers.

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for gifting me this book to read.

    Thank you especially to Fiona McCallum for another beautiful story to read.

    This book took me 3 days to read but many days to get my head back to normal (well close to normal) to write about.

    I have read all but 2 of Fiona’s books and I must say that this book I think is written to perfection.

    Her writing style and what she has written impacted me so much while reading this book.
    The first 2 days I felt like a great heaviness all around me that I couldn’t get out of and yet I knew that it was just the book, it hit me so much I was feeling it all.

    The story of Hannah starts with her perfect life. She’s married has a great job, a home of their own, amazing friends and she’s close to her parents.
    It’s Christmas day the time for joy and happiness and love and sharing but tragedy strikes in a big dynamic way that will cause her to question everything and everyone around her.
    Can life ever go back to normal or even just go on or will it all just be too hard.
    We follow along with Hannah as she deals with all that has happened and as she finds the strength to keep going. We share in the bond she has with her friends and how much she needs to rely on those friends to keep her going.
    Every small step we share with Hannah as she takes on her journey of self discovery and her new life.

    This must have been a hard story to write about but it is done with such depth and compassion that it feels a part of you.
    Only a great storyteller can make you feel her book with this much strength.

    This is a sad but impacting story and even though you will cry it is a beautiful story of courage and strength too.

    Put this on your TBR pile

  10. I found Finding Hannah very sad and a hard book to read. It left me feeling very down but at the same time very lucky with my life.I think having someone like Auntie Beth and a few good friends around when you need them the most is the secret to getting through. The story didn’t end how I thought and I thought Hannah was a much stronger person than me. I also feel your pets have a lot of influence in our lives.

  11. Finding Hannah well what can I say that hasn’t been said but a very endearing brilliant read that I enjoyed & relate to a little

    sad beginning gut wrenching more like so the tissues were there but as the story evolved Hannah’s strength shone through with the help of good people

    I enjoyed this read & I think it is in my favourite pile & would recommend to anyone that enjoys a good read

  12. Finding Hannah is a very emotional story where Hannah suddenly is left a widow and with no parents as they and her husband are killed in a crash on Christmas Day. To have this happen at that time is sad but to have those immediate family all lost at the same time to me is far too sad to comprehend. However, going through the emotions with Hannah I found I wanted to be there with her and for her. Hannah changes from what appears to be a contented person happy with her life and the support of her husband and parents to becoming a strong person learning to deal with her life as it’s left her. She has support around in her friends but she decides she needs to become independent and strong. The story evolves over 12 months from one Christmas to another and we see her challenges, he sadness coupled with new experiences. I love that she went to the US on her own and returned home when she felt the need strong enough too. Without giving too much away I would love to read the next stage of Hannah’s life.
    Lovely read and such a sensitive story.

  13. Thank you for the opportunity to read Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum.

    This was quite an emotional read and a story of finding your own way that works for you. Hannah has a great tragedy occur on her favourite day of the year – Christmas. This affects her entire life and sets her on an emotional rollercoaster. I haven’t been through anything on her scale, but could identify with some situations which made it easier to read.

    Hannah has some amazing friends to help her through some very dark times. These include her best friend Sam. They are on the same page and have a closeness many of us dream of. She has Auntie Beth who lives across the road and is an older voice of reason and wisdom. Then there are her friends through work who make the journey easier. I love her friendship with Jasmine which comes from a different perspective again and grows through the book.

    I feel for Hannah’s journey from happily married with a loving family to a whole new world. While this is a serious book it is an easy read and one worth the hard times.

  14. Finding Hannah is not my usual read. I do tend to read escapism and “light” books. This was far from that.

    A story about loss and grief. Friends and I guess just life in general.
    Although loss is a very big part of life, it is something I try not to dwell on.

    I found the subject matter very hard, raw and emotional. I shed quite a few tears while reading this book.

    Well written and highly emotive, this book left a big impression on me.
    x

  15. Thanks to Harlequin and Beauty and Lace for allowing me to read this book.
    This book is definitely a book that will take you on a journey of emotions as we follow the story of Hannah who suffers a terrible tragedy on Christmas Day. The story is a very sad one and it would be hard to imagine how you would act if you ended up in the same situation.
    This story really is a book that deals with getting over the grief of losing someone and how it can change your life so suddenly. With the help of Hannah’s old and new friends she comes to terms with herself and is forced to find out who Hannah is and what she wants out of life.
    The story is written in a fairly simple manner so despite being quite a hard hitting subject it is still relatively quick and easy to get through. Unfortunately for me I wasn’t overly drawn into the story so it wasn’t a book I would be eager to pick up each day but I still found it ti be a good read.

  16. Fiona McCallum really does tell a beautiful & captivating story of love, love lost & self discovery in her latest novel, Finding Hannah.

    Hannah Ainsley leads a charmed life, has a wonderful husband, loving parents and has an array of thoughtful friends.

    Christmas brings everyone together and is above all, Hannah’s most treasured time of year.

    But Christmas Day this year brings a debilitating tragedy and her world is unceremoniously torn apart in one foul strike.

    This is a journey through an array of deep emotions, grief, survival and learning to live again…
    I was swept up instantly, Fiona McCallum has written this so beautifully.

    It is moving and thoughtful but despite the great sadness of this story it is a wonderful read. The author is indeed a master of storytelling as Good Reading Magazine says.

    All the characters are instantly relatable, they sound like they could be your own circle of family and friends. I think this will strike a cord in everyone who decides to read it.

    As someone who adores Fantasy/Sci Fi, Historic Fiction & the odd Youth Fiction… I am a new convert to this author and genre.

    Thank you so much Harlequin Australia & Beauty and Lace for the opportunity of reading this touching novel.

    Finding Hannah will linger!

  17. I have read all of Fiona McCullum and have loved them, but
    unfortunately for me I didn’t 100% enjoy Finding Hannah.
    Within the first chapter is when the major event happens, it hits you really hard really early, it’s emotional and extremely sad.Can be very close to home and quite confronting. But after that I found I lost interest.

    However I do think the story would emotionally effect others in different ways depending on circumstances.
    I did find the first chapter did shock me.
    It was well written and easy to read but I would have loved a little more.

  18. I was chuffed to receive Finding Hannah to read and review for the Beauty and Lace book club.

    I enjoyed a lot about this book, the sensitive way it illustrates how grief can be crippling and all encompassing, the cast of diverse but loveable friends and family, the fond memories of happier times. I thought the author explored the processing of grief very well. At first, I felt initially a little let down by the ending, but on reflection I think it was perfectly appropriate. I kind of wanted more to happen with Pete and Charlie but that would have seemed too much of a fairy tale ending.

    So overall an interesting and enjoyable (although emotionally draining at times) read which I will certainly recommend to friends and family. A very poignant reminder to treasure your loved ones always.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace, Harlequin and Fiona McCallum for the opportunity.

  19. Finding Hannah written by Fiona McCallum had me intrigued from the very first chapter. The book revolves around Hannah, who loses her husband and parents in a car accident on Christmas Day. The character of Hannah works through all the stages of grief and as a reader, I felt that I was there with her as each layer in her journey unraveled.

    The title ‘Finding Hannah’ pretty much sums up the direction the book goes in, as Hannah works towards naturally finding herself again. It was quite an emotional read and I did find myself teary eyed at multiple points and this was a sign that I was feeling connected to the characters.

    I feel like Fiona McCallum has taken me on a rollercoaster ride through the experience of grief and loss. The book acknowledges the strength and persistence that is needed to heal. I especially enjoyed the ending and surprisingly I found myself laughing and crying a little too.

    I would definitely recommend this book to others and really want to explore some of Fiona McCallum’s other books.

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