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Monday, March 5, 2018

Letters to My Daughters by Emma Hannigan - Personal Thoughts, Book Review & Giveaway

This Saturday the brave Emma Hannigan lost her 11-year-long battle with cancer. In the middle of February Emma Hannigan wrote a beautiful and emotional piece about the fact that her borrowed time was coming to an end. Even though we never had the pleasure to have her on our blog, she left a great impression on us and made sure we never forget how precious life is. With her words she's shown everyone what an amazing author and person she was.

In the last weeks fans, bookshops, book lovers and fellow authors have joined together to promote Emma Hannigan’s new book in the hope it would be another bestseller, a last tribute to this amazing author. Her novel Letters to My Daughters is currently at the top of the book charts, with more than 4,000 copies sold last week.

Almost everyone has suffered the loss of someone dear to them to cancer, a loved one who wasn't able to win the battle against this horrible disease. Most of us know what it's like when someone close to our heart dies because of this unfair illness. Emma Hannigan has touched the hearts of many people with her heartfelt goodbye. Please let us remember her message to be kind to each other and to hold the ones you love close by. Smile at least once a day, laugh, surround yourself with good people, take the time to be grateful and fill your days with as much happiness as you can.

We want to give our sincere condolences for the passing of Emma Hannigan to her family and loved ones and wish them all strength in these sad days.

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Review by Suze

Beatrice, Jeannie and Rose are close. Rose is the oldest sister, Jeannie and Rose are twins. They've always shared everything with each other, but lately there are things they don't dare to tell anyone. When their beloved Nanny May suddenly dies the sisters are heartbroken. Nanny May was like a mother to them, while their own mother Martha was cold and disinterested. Martha only seems to care about the babies she delivers and never makes the time for anyone besides pregnant women. The sisters struggled with this lack of affection, but Nanny May and their father Jim were always there for them, but now that they need them more than ever the women feel like they are on their own, only are they really?

Nanny May has left letters to Beatrice, Jeannie, Rose and Jim, but they are missing. What happened to the last words they're so desperate to read? Beatrice is a successful business owner, but there's a big wish she'd love to see fulfilled, Jeannie has a husband who adores her, but her vibrant life in LA has suddenly lost its glamour, Rose's daughter doesn't respect her mother enough and Rose's marriage is a facade and Jim is trying to enjoy retirement with Martha, but she isn't as enthusiastic about it as he hoped. Will they find Nanny May's last words of wisdom and will the love they have for one another help them through these difficult times?

Letters to My Daughters is a beautiful emotional story. I was spellbound from the beginning. Beatrice, Jeannie and Rose have never received enough love from their mother. Martha is more interested in her work than in her daughters. She had a difficult upbringing and this damaged her greatly, she isn't warm and maternal and has never understood her own children. Nanny May and Jim have given the girls a happy childhood, so even though their relationship with their mother is strained, they know what it's like to be loved. Each sister struggles with something they can't easily talk about. I was curious to find out more about their journeys and this kept me on the edge of my seat. They are wonderful sweet, smart and special women and I hoped life would bring them some much deserved happiness.

Emma Hannigan's heartwarming writing style made me fall in love with Letters to My Daughters straight away. Her deep and detailed descriptions of feelings, situations and decisions are making her story incredibly interesting to read. There's so much going on and every chapter brings something unexpected and fascinating. I was impressed with Letters to My Daughters straight away and couldn't put it down. I read this mesmerizing book in one sitting. It's a brilliant captivating story about family, unconditional love and being yourself. I loved every single page and highly recommend this amazing novel.


If you love beautiful stories about family, Letters to My Daughters is an absolute must-read.

About Emma Hannigan

I live in Bray, Co Wicklow with my husband Cian, our son Sacha and daughter Kim. Our home is made all the more crazy by the addition of our two cats Tom and Tigger and our dog Herbie. Every now and then, I look in the mirror and wonder what’s happened to the face I used to own! You see I still think I'm 25!

In August 2005, I discovered I was carrying the potentially deadly cancer carrying gene, BrCa 1. In plain English, this meant I had a whooping 85% chance of developing breast cancer, and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.

In 2006, I chose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy (or both breasts removed) and a bi-lateral oopherectomy (or both ovaries removed) to prevent cancer striking.

I wasn’t actually sick at the time, but I felt like a ticking time bomb. Opting for surgery was not a shocking or scary decision, for me. Quite the opposite, I felt huge relief. I was glad there was something I could do to make my body safer. After breast reconstruction, I thought I had pipped cancer at the post and would happily sail off into the distance.

But that wasn't to be. In 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, in the neck, shoulder and under my arm. Deciding it might be a bit lonely the cancer invited an auto-immune disease, called dermatomyositis along for the ride. Not only was I shocked and more than a little peeved, but I really longed to have an auto-immune disease with a shorter name. It took me a week to be able to both spell and pronounce dermatomyositis. With the help of my oncologist Dr David Fennelly and the team in Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, I beat the cancer.

In 2008, the cancer came back. Yes, not satisfied that it had done enough damage, the cancer appeared in the form of another tumour under my left arm. That was duely carved out by the surgical team at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin. For my trouble I also got a free ticket aboard the chemotherapy bus for another six month tour. In December 2008, I was given the all clear once again. Fantastic!

In 2009 before I could perform a victory dance, the cancer came back again. Cheeky bastard. This time I had radiation which was exhausting and draining, but it worked and besides, it was research for my memoir Talk to the Head Scarf. The general idea at that stage was that the cancer might have had enough.

But I can't control if and when my cancer returns, so 2010 became my worst year for nasty nodal invasion - I ended up with four out breaks bringing my total to 7. (A lucky number for some) I was on an oral form of chemotherapy called Xeloda, which meant I simply took the tablets at home. Although I felt tired and need to be frugal with my energy, the tablets didn't present me with too many problems. At first they worked and seemed to be killing the cancer. But several months later I noticed new nodes. In fact they began to pop up around my neck, behind my ears and around my collar bone.

By June 2011 I was diagnosed for the eighth time and given a different chemotherapy drug called Taxol. As it was back to the IV stuff, I had to have a new port put back in my neck which I hated but it serves a great purpose. My poor veins weren't able to take any more needles so it was the most sensible option for me and my care givers.

Taxol causes alopecia so I opted to use the scalp cooler or cold cap to save my hair. I had positive results in every quarter. The nodes all disolved before my eyes! I tolerated the drug really well. I had minimal nausea and although I did become very tired and weary, I felt it was all a small price to pay in exchange for being well. I managed to hold on to my hair also. The cold cap isn't for everyone, it's not pleasant but it worked for me. I finished treatment in November 2011.

Clear scans and the wonderfully sweet words - 'Emma you are in remission' ... were uttered by Dr David Fennelly (AKA Saint David chez nous).

In December of 2013 I was diagnosed yet again. This time the cancer was on the back of my skull and on both sides of my neck. I had 50 fractions of radiation. This was the toughest treatment yet. I needed to be clipped to the radiation table by a rigid moulded mask. This caused intense pain, like I've never experienced before - yes, it was worse than childbirth. But the good news is that it worked. The relief at finishing my radiation along with a good result was wonderful.

In October of this year I was diagnosed for the tenth time. The other side of my skull and several places in my neck currently have active cancer. I am waiting to begin a progressive new drug made up of parp inhibitors. All I know is that it's tablet form and it's meant to be less invasive on my body, yet highly effective against cancer. I'll share what I learn as I go along.

Cancer will always be a part of my life but I live in hope that the wonders of medicine can continue to offer me options, so I can keep beating this awful disease. Recently I visited the labs that are funded by #BreastCancerIreland. I'm proud to be an ambassador for this incredible charity. All money raised goes to research for new drugs. The work the scientists are doing is phenomenal. I believe there is massive hope for the future of oncology medicine.

To sum it all up - I lost my hair and it grew back. I was very ill at one stage, weak as a kitten and limp as dead daisy, but I am still here and willing to fight. I've had dark days (and dark hair before I could colour it again) and long sleepless nights, but the sun always comes out and shines brightly in my life. I have found a wonderful outlet in the form of writing. If I had never been ill, I may never have started writing books.

My fiction novels Designer Genes, Miss Conceived, The Pink Ladies Club, Keeping Mum, Perfect Wives and Driving Home for Christmas, The Heart of Winter, The Summer Guest, The Secrets We Share and The Perfect Gift are in shops or available for online purchase at

My updated and elongated memoir 'All To Live For' is also available in all good book shops and on line at This book details my journey with cancer. It's a tell-all with no holds barred. But it's no misery memoir. In fact I laughed out loud many times while writing it and lots of lovely folks have written to me saying they did the same. When I was first diagnosed I longed to pick up a book written by a "normal" person who could tell me things were going to be okay. I hope 'All To Live For' ​does just that.


Website // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon


To show our appreciation for every beautiful story and piece Emma Hannigan's has written and for all the heartwarming support she's given people we'll be giving away a paperback copy of Letters to My Daughters to a reader of With Love for Books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Emma was an inspiration to everyone struggling with cancer. A great author, mum and a wonderful person. After an incredible 11 years with this awful disease she did 'not go gentle into the good night'. She gave it her all and was surrounded by her loving family. My deepest condolences to them.

  2. I used to work in Bray & remember seeing Emma at a book signing in the town's main book shop. She was so very full of life and of love. To quote my Mum's favourite Bible verse: "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love".

  3. I was so sorry to hear about Emma. Even though I never read anything by her, I always respected her and her books were always on my tbr list. I never paid much attention to her life story until only recently I've heard on twitter that doctors stopped giving her a treatment. I am so sorry to hear she lost her battle, and I feel sorry for her family.
    The memory of her will still live in her novels and even though I feel like I'm too late, I will read them and in that way get to know a little piece of her.

  4. I’ve read other books by Emma and loved them . I followed her on twitter and read her blog - she was an inspiration to me especially when I was ill too. Her strength and positivity blew me away. How she kept smiling through everything never failed to amaze me. I cried when she said goodbye and I was heartbroken at the news this weekend but I follow her lead; enjoy every day as if it’s your last, laugh and take pleasure in the small things. Life is too short so make the most of it and live it with love

  5. Oh, my goodness - I had tears in my eyes at this. I am so glad to learn about her - what an amazing, open and positive person. I will be praying for her family. I lost my grandfather to cancer and a dear friend has just recovered from breast cancer. And I myself know what it's like to have dark valleys and how the sunshine is so much brighter and life so much more vibrant after. It reorients perspectives - suddenly you can see what's truly important in life!! For me as a Christian, God is most important of all in my life, and my family a close and wonderful second. I feel so blessed and grateful. Heartfelt hugs! xxx

  6. This is sad news, she was an amazing woman. What a story she lived. Thank you for posting this today.

  7. Such sad, sad news, my thoughts are with her family. She was a very brave person having gone through so many different cancers and treatments and still have a sunny outlook on life. Smile and the whole world smiles with you and there's a lot of truth in that saying.

  8. I lost my Mum and Dad and Grandparents to cancer it is such an awful disease. My thoughts are with you all. In New Zealand we have a saying 'Kia Kaha'- stay strong.

  9. I loved her book All To Live For so I can't wait to read this.

  10. This has been on my TBR list since I first heard about her...

  11. Sounds both - heart warming and heartbreaking. I'd love to read it.

  12. Sadly Emma passed at this time. She was a beautiful and inspiring soul RIP 💗

  13. So sorry to hear that Emma has passed. I know she was a great inspiration to all that knew her and through her books to countless numbers of people who didn't. Rest in Peace.

  14. You're such an inspiration, to have achieved so much whilst battling Cancer multiple times!

  15. Heartbreaking & upliftfting. I can't wait to read this story.

  16. Thank you for the book and competition. Good luck everyone.

  17. How truly aweful so sorry for emma and her family i too have seen first hand what cancer can do to someone i wouldnt wish it on anyone i am very much looking forward to reading her book!

  18. I would love to own this book. This story is heartbreaking. Some of us act like the real heroes. Lubka

  19. This leaves me speechless -it really is a heartbreaking story and happens to far too many people

  20. So sad to hear of Emmas passing. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

  21. Michelle FergusonMarch 15, 2018 at 8:58 PM

    Such a brave and strong lady, her family should be very proud