Sally Hanan took part in my Author in the Spotlight feature last week. If you’d like to find out more about Sally and her writing journey, you can have a look at that here: Author Spotlight. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on her book, My Heart Went Walking.
About the book
Sally Hanan’s sublime debut mixes the prose of Sue Monk Kidd with the dialogue of Maeve Binchy. With captivating warmth, she pulls us in to explore how it felt to live in Ireland’s changing culture of the 1980s, and how it often made a woman’s decisions for her.
Kept apart by their love for one man, two sisters embark on their own paths towards survival, love, and understanding, until they finally meet again in the worst of circumstances.
My Heart Went Walking is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that sweeps from the small Irish town of Donegal to the ‘big smoke’ of Dublin City; a book that celebrates the pull of family and the chance of redemption. It is a novel for anyone who feels connected to the Irish approach to life—that of grit and laughter—and also for everyone who loves an overriding message of hope and restoration in all things.
I so enjoyed My Heart Went Walking. The story of Una, Ellie and Cullen was told in a very compelling way. There was such a complicated situation with Cullen. As you’ll guess from the book information, he is the love interest for both sisters but probably not in the way you might be thinking. That’s so vague isn’t it, but I don’t want to give anything away.
Una, our main character, is such a strong woman. She is in a very difficult situation, a situation very much frowned upon in 1908s Ireland, and she makes brave choices. She had to decide whether to tell the while truth of her situation with the devastating fallout that would cause. I really admired her tenacity and the way she made positive decisions for herself which led her to a very different kind of life she might not have expected. I adored Catherine and Des for the unconditional love, kindness and support they gave to Una.
The author has captured the setting of 1980s Ireland so well I feel, though I am not myself Irish. The expectations of family and community are clear. Being a teenager myself in the 80s, I enjoyed the references to the music, fashion and contemporary issues of the times There was a lot of warmth and humour even though there are some very difficult times for the characters. The author made her characters feel authentically Irish to me, not least through the dialogue. There’s a very helpful glossary of Irish words and phrases for readers who might not be familiar with some terms, although many have an American ‘translation’.
While My Heart Went Walking has its tense and poignant moments, it is a warm, emotional and uplifting book. I’d be keen to read more by Sally Hanan, who has a natural storytelling style. My Heart Went Walking is a beautifully written novel about the ties of family and of love.
My thanks to Hannah Hargrave for sending me a copy of the book for review. It will be published on 5th February and you can order your copy here: My Heart Went Walking
About the Author
Sally Hanan grew up in Ireland and became a nurse, but she left all the big family dinners, rain, and cups of tea when she and her husband moved to Texas. Her family now raised, she works as a book editor and occasional lay counselor and life coach. She won a 2021 Readers’ Favorite gold medal winner for her nonfiction. www.sallyhanan.com