Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review – The First Time I Said Goodbye by Claire Allan

OMG! Where has this amazing author been all my life?

1959 sees Stella falling madly and deeply in love with Ray, an American marine who is posted to her home town of Derry.  In a head over heels romance, and with her father’s blessing, Stella plans to leave her family and home and travel to America to be with the man she loves until tragedy strikes and her life takes a most unexpected turn.

Meanwhile in 2010, Stella’s daughter Annabel Jackson, who is dealing with the loss of her father just days before, reluctantly agrees to visit Derry with her newly widowed mother and meet a side of her family she has never met before leaving behind her a rocky relationship with boyfriend Craig.  Spending time in Derry makes them both wake up and see the future how it could be, rather than as it is.

The book is written in two time periods which swap back and forth.  Sounds complicated, but it actually flows incredibly well and I’m not normally a fan of books that aren’t set in the last couple of decades but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the trials and toughness of the days that Stella grew up in and learning about their family values some of which are very different to those we experience today.  

This was one of the most scrumptious books I think I’ve ever read.  A fantastically brilliant story-line made this such a wonderfully delightful book. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sing it’s praises high enough.  You’ll have to read it to believe me.  It is a real old-fashioned love story with a most perfect ending!

I do have to confess that I shed a tear or two. OK then – I admit it! There was lots of snivelling to start with before I turned into a complete blubbering wreck!  Claire knows that this book was very close to by heart as I lost my dear and much loved Dad at the beginning of May and had lost my darling Mom nearly 7 years ago.  This book brought back some awfully familiar memories and last night I found myself sobbing my heart out, feeling that it was my own heart that was breaking!

I am gobsmacked that I’ve never discovered or read anything by Claire Allan before. She is an exceptional author, who just picks you up and transports you full blast into her marvellous story feeling every single emotion possible and becoming at one with the characters. 

This is an outstanding book and I’d love to spend a whole weekend, at the start of a pile of Claire Allan books working my way through them all and not moving until I have! If someone could pop round and make me the odd cup of coffee, but not expecting any more than a grunt of thanks from me, that would be the mark of a real friend!

Unfortunately, this book is not available to buy until 28th August although you can pre-order it right here.  

You can however, buy Claire’s other books and the link to her Amazon page can be found here 

You can find out more about Claire at her website www.claireallan.com.

Claire grew up and still lives in Derry, with her husband and two children and two cats.  She still writes very proudly for the Derry Journal and has a weekly column called Skirting The Issue.  The highlights of her career with the Journal are being part of the award winning team that covered the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday and being appointed the paper’s first female columnist in 2002.  She wrote her first book in 2004 following the birth of her first child loosely based upon her experience of post natal depression. 

When she’s not writing books, she loves social media, baking, reading and has also discovered a love of exercise, and enjoys spending time enjoying her family.  

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