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The First Time I Said Goodbye

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Would you hold on tighter if you knew you were saying goodbye forever? In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a handsome US marine based in Derry.Caught up in a whirlwind of romance, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray.But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil a Would you hold on tighter if you knew you were saying goodbye forever? In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a handsome US marine based in Derry.Caught up in a whirlwind of romance, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray.But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil and they come to realise they may have said their first, and last goodbye. In 2010, Annabel Jackson, reeling from the loss of her father, agrees to accompany her mother Stella back to Ireland to meet her family for the first time. In Derry they both start to realise that sometimes you have to say goodbye to what you thought you always wanted, in order to find what you have needed all along. Editorial Reviews “One of the most scrumptious books i think I’ve ever read” All Things Books “Like a hug in a book! ... ideal book for those who doubts there's such a thing as having it all” – Woman’s Way “An amazing story of first love and how, even years later, the feelings can still exist. Based on a true story, this was my favourite tale of true love in recent years. Sweet, warm and endearing, it stayed with me for weeks after I had finished it. For all of us that believe there is a soulmate out there for everyone.” Bleach House Library Quite simply, this is one of the nicest, warmest and moving love stories I have read in years and I found myself very emotional while reading it. It had some personal meaning to me, as it was a similar tale to a relative of mine, and I had to stop reading a few times in order to pull myself together. I didn’t want it to end and the lump in my throat remains with me, even as I write this review. Writing.ie I LOVED this book. I was completely absorbed in it ...I really couldn't put it down - At Home with Mrs M “A feel-good, touching and amusing tale which readers will find hard to put down” – Irish Independent


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Would you hold on tighter if you knew you were saying goodbye forever? In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a handsome US marine based in Derry.Caught up in a whirlwind of romance, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray.But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil a Would you hold on tighter if you knew you were saying goodbye forever? In 1959, factory girl Stella Hegarty finds herself falling unexpectedly for the charms of a handsome US marine based in Derry.Caught up in a whirlwind of romance, Stella finds herself planning a new life in America with her beloved Ray.But when tragedy steps in, both their lives are thrown into turmoil and they come to realise they may have said their first, and last goodbye. In 2010, Annabel Jackson, reeling from the loss of her father, agrees to accompany her mother Stella back to Ireland to meet her family for the first time. In Derry they both start to realise that sometimes you have to say goodbye to what you thought you always wanted, in order to find what you have needed all along. Editorial Reviews “One of the most scrumptious books i think I’ve ever read” All Things Books “Like a hug in a book! ... ideal book for those who doubts there's such a thing as having it all” – Woman’s Way “An amazing story of first love and how, even years later, the feelings can still exist. Based on a true story, this was my favourite tale of true love in recent years. Sweet, warm and endearing, it stayed with me for weeks after I had finished it. For all of us that believe there is a soulmate out there for everyone.” Bleach House Library Quite simply, this is one of the nicest, warmest and moving love stories I have read in years and I found myself very emotional while reading it. It had some personal meaning to me, as it was a similar tale to a relative of mine, and I had to stop reading a few times in order to pull myself together. I didn’t want it to end and the lump in my throat remains with me, even as I write this review. Writing.ie I LOVED this book. I was completely absorbed in it ...I really couldn't put it down - At Home with Mrs M “A feel-good, touching and amusing tale which readers will find hard to put down” – Irish Independent

30 review for The First Time I Said Goodbye

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Cooley

    In all I enjoyed this book. The plot and pacing were good, the characters were well fleshed-out. It was predictable, but predictability can be comforting. My only complaint was that the main character and one of the secondary characters were supposed to be American-born and raised. The only problem here is that they spoke like people who had been raised in Great Britain/Ireland. I found this to be very distracting. When I discovered that the author was a journalist, it just confirmed my feeling In all I enjoyed this book. The plot and pacing were good, the characters were well fleshed-out. It was predictable, but predictability can be comforting. My only complaint was that the main character and one of the secondary characters were supposed to be American-born and raised. The only problem here is that they spoke like people who had been raised in Great Britain/Ireland. I found this to be very distracting. When I discovered that the author was a journalist, it just confirmed my feeling that she had been quite lazy in creating dialogue for these characters. I little research would have made the dialogue much more real and would have enhanced the two characters' foreign status and isolation from the rest of the characters which would have made a good novel better. A few passing references to California, WalMart, and the Grand Canyon did little in the face of almost every sentence containing British/Irish vernacular such as bin bags, article, gone 6:00, etc. Am I too picky? Maybe, but it would have added depth to these two very important characters if the author had at least tried to be authentic to the American vernacular.

  2. 4 out of 5

    JenV

    I loved the plot and the characters. I also loved the current and past perspectives and the use of the old letters. The one thing that kept me from rating this higher was the ending. I needed more! I needed to know what happened with Stella and Ray. I needed to know what happened with Annabel. I needed to know what happened with Dolores and Sam and Sam's future. I needed more closure on this story. I loved the plot and the characters. I also loved the current and past perspectives and the use of the old letters. The one thing that kept me from rating this higher was the ending. I needed more! I needed to know what happened with Stella and Ray. I needed to know what happened with Annabel. I needed to know what happened with Dolores and Sam and Sam's future. I needed more closure on this story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    The book starts out slow, picks up a bit in the middle and then drags it for all it's worth to the end. Less would have been better. No challenge you've got if figured out way to early. The book starts out slow, picks up a bit in the middle and then drags it for all it's worth to the end. Less would have been better. No challenge you've got if figured out way to early.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim Mullin

    Set in Ireland and written by an Irish authoress; I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This book and writer is another uncovered gem in the Kindle library.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was a charming narrative that pulled me in right from the beginning. It was clear that readers would soon learn about Stella's history and, being back in her hometown of Derry, would give her and her daughter, Annabel, a chance for re-discovering themselves, once and for all. Initially this book could be considered as having a slow start. However, Allan carefully crafts the two characters of Annabel and Stella, allowing readers to establish a relationship with both before the story really st This was a charming narrative that pulled me in right from the beginning. It was clear that readers would soon learn about Stella's history and, being back in her hometown of Derry, would give her and her daughter, Annabel, a chance for re-discovering themselves, once and for all. Initially this book could be considered as having a slow start. However, Allan carefully crafts the two characters of Annabel and Stella, allowing readers to establish a relationship with both before the story really starts to take off when the women arrive in Ireland. I don't think I have read a novel set in Ireland and I really appreciated the charm and friendliness that came from all of the characters! Having been to this amazing country a couple of times, I think Allan encapsulates what the Irish people are all about, and I believe this element adds to the warmth of the story. Shadowing the entire story is the death of Annabel's father. The inevitable, emotional impact that this has on Annabel and her mother is explored throughout this narrative. Both Annabel and Stella have to come to terms with his slow decline in health, leading to his eventual death, and the way that Allan describes this during the novel certainly touched me and caused me to reminisce on a personal level. The dual narrative allows readers to explore Annabel's return to strength as she grows to develop a strong friendship with her cousin, Sam. On the other hand, readers learn what happened to her mother, Stella, back in Derry in 1959. The story of Stella's lost love is touching and sad; the lost hopes and dreams constantly conflict with the fact that Stella has just lost her husband. Stella mourns not just for her husband, but also the man she was never able to marry. This was a lovely story and I really enjoyed reading it. I personally do not think that this novel's cover does not do the plot any justice: it is not about baking cakes and having cups of tea, but about a love that never was. The journey that these  two women take - both physically and emotionally - is endearing and a symbol that despite hardships, you can ride the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandra McKenna

    An incredibly moving story. Oh dear, I am welling up after finishing this incredible story. A dual timeline set in Ireland and America during the 1950's and in 2010, it is about the conflict of loss, true love and family loyalty . An incredibly moving story, well written and unputdownable. I would have no hesitation in recommending this fabulous read. An incredibly moving story. Oh dear, I am welling up after finishing this incredible story. A dual timeline set in Ireland and America during the 1950's and in 2010, it is about the conflict of loss, true love and family loyalty . An incredibly moving story, well written and unputdownable. I would have no hesitation in recommending this fabulous read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jill Massey

    Too long, too much ! Not enough of the main story! Book was way too drawn out to be enjoyable. Kept have to fast forward to get to the main story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    Sheesh. Like reading a Hallmark movie. American daughter of an Irish mother and American father loses her father. Mom decides to revisit Ireland, where she hasn't been for 48 years. Takes grieving, overly-emotional daughter along. Daughter finds out Mom wants to attend the reunion of military men who were stationed in Derry decades ago. Mom had been madly in love with one of the American GI's at the time but broke up with him when her own father died and she had to become the financial support f Sheesh. Like reading a Hallmark movie. American daughter of an Irish mother and American father loses her father. Mom decides to revisit Ireland, where she hasn't been for 48 years. Takes grieving, overly-emotional daughter along. Daughter finds out Mom wants to attend the reunion of military men who were stationed in Derry decades ago. Mom had been madly in love with one of the American GI's at the time but broke up with him when her own father died and she had to become the financial support for the large family. Now the freshly-minted widow wants to re-engage with the first love of her life. Daughter "finds herself" and happiness in Ireland. Mission accomplished. The end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I recommend the book. It is a love story, but I found a history about Ireland that I never knew before. In 1960, Ray is an American marine stationed in Ireland. He meets and falls in love with Stella. They plan to marry but fate steps in to deliver a tragic blow. That is the thread of the story that I liked. The author was long of wind with side stories and repetitions. The book needed an editor. The author went from first person to second person to third person inappropriately. Thank you, Ms. A I recommend the book. It is a love story, but I found a history about Ireland that I never knew before. In 1960, Ray is an American marine stationed in Ireland. He meets and falls in love with Stella. They plan to marry but fate steps in to deliver a tragic blow. That is the thread of the story that I liked. The author was long of wind with side stories and repetitions. The book needed an editor. The author went from first person to second person to third person inappropriately. Thank you, Ms. Allan, for a good read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Abrol

    This is not the type of book I usually read but it was given to me by my aunt and the storyline intrigued me as it reminded me of my mother's story and it was also set around the same time, the early 1960s, in Northern Ireland. I have to say I really enjoyed this book and loved the characters who were portrayed so vividly. I actually found the book hard to put down (and I don't often say that!) as I crossed my fingers and hoped for the happy ending that sadly my own mother never found. It has in This is not the type of book I usually read but it was given to me by my aunt and the storyline intrigued me as it reminded me of my mother's story and it was also set around the same time, the early 1960s, in Northern Ireland. I have to say I really enjoyed this book and loved the characters who were portrayed so vividly. I actually found the book hard to put down (and I don't often say that!) as I crossed my fingers and hoped for the happy ending that sadly my own mother never found. It has inspired me to write her story. Thank you Claire for this lovely book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

    I enjoyed the storyline following the young couple in Derry back in war times to the present day story of Annabelle. A comforting wholesome read with predictable twists and turns. Would have given it 3 and a half stars, not quite a 4. My only criticism is the ending happened so suddenly. Would have liked some info on what might be happening next int the main characters' lives. I enjoyed the storyline following the young couple in Derry back in war times to the present day story of Annabelle. A comforting wholesome read with predictable twists and turns. Would have given it 3 and a half stars, not quite a 4. My only criticism is the ending happened so suddenly. Would have liked some info on what might be happening next int the main characters' lives.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    A fine romance. An absorbing and believable story of love and family and their inherent complications. The setting in Derry is also an important and satisfying aspect of the novel. I found the deepening understanding between Annabelle and her mother especially satisfying.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynda Kelly

    This was a lovely story, just as I expected, though it seemed to get all very rushed at the end......such a pity. I'd have had a good additional 100 pages making a lot more of it than she did.....this won't stop me from recommending it, however, and I'll definitely read her again. She created a super family in the Hegartys, they're a great bunch. The humour featured brought to mind the Irish families that Marian Keyes creates so well, too. Some very touching moments were featured, one passage mad This was a lovely story, just as I expected, though it seemed to get all very rushed at the end......such a pity. I'd have had a good additional 100 pages making a lot more of it than she did.....this won't stop me from recommending it, however, and I'll definitely read her again. She created a super family in the Hegartys, they're a great bunch. The humour featured brought to mind the Irish families that Marian Keyes creates so well, too. Some very touching moments were featured, one passage made me sob and a letter actually made me feel quite ill ! I didn't really "get" why Stella never even went back to Derry for a visit, either, in the intervening 50 years !! There are a few niggles. She writes a lot of back-to-back dialogue but on the same line and you really need to concentrate a lot harder in order to figure out who's speaking when. She also has a needless space after every single hyphen used, like all- American or suspect- looking. There were missed apostrophes and also dropped speechmarks, too, here and there. Throughout she referred to both Marines and marines and couldn't seem to make her mind up whether to capitalise them or not. Rained was used and not rain, into and not to, born and not borne, eek and not eke (!!), wrote "that was in it" as opposed to "that it was" and "I couldn't speak in this time" and not "at this time" and then we got, "....she had turned in the landing" and not on. So some odd language usage. Under foot doesn't need a space, either. THIS passage totally confused me, "And with one wage now-the wage that put the roof over their heads in the first place-there was no way the family could manage....." and I finally figured out she missed a word out, probably, gone......with one wage GONE now was what she meant !! This type of mistake cost it the 5* for me, as there were too many not picked up.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nessa

    This was a truly wonderful and beautiful story, with equal measures of drama, emotional scenes and some laughter moments too. The story was very well written and has a dual timeline storyline involved, which I throughly enjoyed. It didn’t take me long to become engaged/lost in the stories of those of Stella in 1959 and Annabelle in 2010, getting to know them, seeing what they each had to go through and then loving how the two stories came together at the very end, just beautiful and very thought This was a truly wonderful and beautiful story, with equal measures of drama, emotional scenes and some laughter moments too. The story was very well written and has a dual timeline storyline involved, which I throughly enjoyed. It didn’t take me long to become engaged/lost in the stories of those of Stella in 1959 and Annabelle in 2010, getting to know them, seeing what they each had to go through and then loving how the two stories came together at the very end, just beautiful and very thought provoking. It truly shows how one or two events that happen in a life can change the overall outcome/direction as to where that said life was originally heading. I’m so glad that I discovered this author and will very much be looking forward to reading her other books in the coming months.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    I don’t typically read light little romances, but this one seemed intriguing w/ it’s dual story lines: Annabel and her Mom, Stella return to Stella’s native Derry, Ireland, for the first time since she left in the 60’s b/c Annabel’ father has just died after a long battle w/ CA. Annabel doesn’t know that the timing of the visit to Ireland is b/c of a US marine reunion at the old marine base in Derry. Stella hopes to talk to the man who was the great love of her life, a man Annabel only learns ab I don’t typically read light little romances, but this one seemed intriguing w/ it’s dual story lines: Annabel and her Mom, Stella return to Stella’s native Derry, Ireland, for the first time since she left in the 60’s b/c Annabel’ father has just died after a long battle w/ CA. Annabel doesn’t know that the timing of the visit to Ireland is b/c of a US marine reunion at the old marine base in Derry. Stella hopes to talk to the man who was the great love of her life, a man Annabel only learns about during the trip to Ireland. The denouement of the plot is visible once Annabel, and we the readers, find out about Ray, the marine. Parts of the story are quite affecting and parts are just typical romance novel, but overall, it was a fluffy read at my Mom’s house on my new Kindle.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    What a lovely book. Honestly, it was a 100% surprise to me. I got it for free. And thought what the heck I would give it a try. Great use of characters. Great decriptions of the Irish way of life. Overall, a great book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lynette Fenical

    Good story I enjoyed the plot but not the two main characters. They seemed week to me. The book is not complex just a simple love story but was a fun read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Terric853

    Really good book! Annabel's father has recently died and her Irish-born mother, Stella, asks her to go on a trip to her hometown in Ireland. They leave a few weeks after the funeral and Annabel meets relatives she had only heard about from her mother's stories. But, her mother has hidden a secret from her and Annabel is shocked to discover that her mother, at 20, was madly in love with an American Marine, Ray, stationed in her hometown in 1959. The story is told from two perspectives: Annabel's, Really good book! Annabel's father has recently died and her Irish-born mother, Stella, asks her to go on a trip to her hometown in Ireland. They leave a few weeks after the funeral and Annabel meets relatives she had only heard about from her mother's stories. But, her mother has hidden a secret from her and Annabel is shocked to discover that her mother, at 20, was madly in love with an American Marine, Ray, stationed in her hometown in 1959. The story is told from two perspectives: Annabel's, in the first person, in 2010 and her mother's, told in the third-person, in 1959-60. Annabel was a "daddy's girl" and even as a grown woman of 37, can't accept the fact that her mother was truly, deeply in love with anyone other than Annabel's father. She also is struggling with the fact that part of the reason Stella wanted to return to Ireland was to attend a 50th reunion of Ray's Marine company in her hometown, hoping to see Ray again. Stella and Ray's love story is just wonderful, if heartbreaking. Annabel's obession with her dead father and how badly she feels about his death, her resentment at her mother for loving somone else 50 years prior, and her indecision over her relationship with her live-in boyfriend were not quite as engaging as Stella and Ray's love story. Sam, Annabel's cousin, was a doll. (I laughed at loud his reference to Father Ted's Mrs. Doyle). Her Aunt Delores was an interesting paradox of compassion and intolerance. And, while the ending had me in tears, I wish it had been more definitive. All in all, I recommend this novel as a highly enjoyable read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dean McIntyre

    One reviewer said THE FIRST TIME I SAID GOODBYE by Claire Allan was like reading a Hallmark movie. I would agree but would want to add that it's much more like reading one of the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies than one of the mundane, formulaic Hallmark movies that play in endless reruns every night. It's a good story with interesting characters and relationships. Stella is a young girl working in a factory in 1959 in her hometown of Derry, Ireland. She meets Ray, a US Marine stationed there and t One reviewer said THE FIRST TIME I SAID GOODBYE by Claire Allan was like reading a Hallmark movie. I would agree but would want to add that it's much more like reading one of the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies than one of the mundane, formulaic Hallmark movies that play in endless reruns every night. It's a good story with interesting characters and relationships. Stella is a young girl working in a factory in 1959 in her hometown of Derry, Ireland. She meets Ray, a US Marine stationed there and they fall madly in love. Ray promises to marry her and take her back to his home in the USA to make a home and family. But tragedy intrudes -- Stella's beloved father dies unexpectedly and Ray is shipped out shortly thereafter. Stella moves to the USA to find Ray but his mother keeps them apart, and they live separate iives, marry, and have no contact. Fifty years later, Stella takes her daughter Annabel back to Derry to see the homeland and meet the Irish family, including the gay cousin who runs a high end vintage dress shop. While there they discover there is to be a reunion of Ray's Marine unit in Derry. So as not to disclose the ending, I'll leave the rest to the reader, but with the prediction you will find the Hallmark ending satisfying. This is not a Steinbeck or Hemmingway level masterpiece, but it is an enjoyable read. Four out of five stars. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Bittersweet "Lost and Found" love story... When Annabel's father dies, after a long, painful illness, she is devastated, and her boyfriend, Craig, is not as comforting or supportive as she would like. Then she learns her Irish mother wants her to put Craig and her bakery businessin hold, and travel back to Ireland with her to visit her family; a family Annabel has never met. Prepared to be bored to tears, she is surprised to find a huge, extended family that welcomes both of them with open arms. Bittersweet "Lost and Found" love story... When Annabel's father dies, after a long, painful illness, she is devastated, and her boyfriend, Craig, is not as comforting or supportive as she would like. Then she learns her Irish mother wants her to put Craig and her bakery businessin hold, and travel back to Ireland with her to visit her family; a family Annabel has never met. Prepared to be bored to tears, she is surprised to find a huge, extended family that welcomes both of them with open arms. But due to their remarks, she also discovers a secret about her mother's past, which threatens to destroy her belief in her parent's "fairytail romance and perfect marriage." Learning the truth about her mother's lost opportunities, hardships, and courage after her own father died so many years before, helps Annabel come to terms with her own demons, while becoming closer and more supportive of her mother, and her desire to chase her long lost dreams.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna Dv

    Loved this book This book was so hard for me to read at times since the main character lost her father in the same way I did. The parts that dealt with his death were hard. When I first started reading the book it was hard to get into, mostly because I wasn't sure I wanted to relive my father's death through this book. I am glad I kept on reading. It was a very good book, but won't say anymore for fear of giving away the real story. Loved this book This book was so hard for me to read at times since the main character lost her father in the same way I did. The parts that dealt with his death were hard. When I first started reading the book it was hard to get into, mostly because I wasn't sure I wanted to relive my father's death through this book. I am glad I kept on reading. It was a very good book, but won't say anymore for fear of giving away the real story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    A beautiful love story that captured my heart from the beginning. I loved Stella and cried when she cried and smiled when she smiled. Allan weaves a world that is familiar yet original. A must read! My Rating: 5 stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book hit home with me. Very, very close to home actually. The First Time I Said Goodbye is a heart tugging read about the death of a parent, the end of a relationship, the realization that your father wasn’t your mother’s greatest love, and learning to live again. My own father passed several years ago and my mother married her college boyfriend, an event that had me questioning everything I thought I knew about her and her marriage to my father. Claire Allan’s book, based loosely upon an ar This book hit home with me. Very, very close to home actually. The First Time I Said Goodbye is a heart tugging read about the death of a parent, the end of a relationship, the realization that your father wasn’t your mother’s greatest love, and learning to live again. My own father passed several years ago and my mother married her college boyfriend, an event that had me questioning everything I thought I knew about her and her marriage to my father. Claire Allan’s book, based loosely upon an article she was assigned for an Irish newspaper, has everything you want for a “tuck up under a quilt and read while it snows” book. Switching between 1960s and 2010 Derry, Allan’s writing focuses on relationships rather than places, and her main characters are pretty solid. She allows her reader’s to imagine the scenes she lays before them, following the rule of “show don’t tell” flawlessly. Her narrative style is natural and easy to read, and more appealing for me, relatable. The death of a woman’s father is something I think you only truly understand when it’s happened to you, and I’m not sure men can understand it or equate it. For most women, Dad is the first and last superhero in their lives, the man who can fix anything, the spoiler, the first to capture her heart. Losing him is the safety net of your life suddenly vanishing, and Allan’s portrayal of this with her protagonist, Annabelle, is heart wrenching and beautiful at the same time. I found myself highlighting passages and making notes of “Exactly!” and “could never put it into words myself” again and again. When Annabelle learns of her mother’s first true romance and her intentions of meeting him again at a reunion that occurs on the heels of her father’s death, her reaction is typical; anger, denial, the sense of betrayal and outrage on behalf of her deceased father is palatable. These were all feelings I had when my mom remarried twelve years after dad’s passing. For years I couldn’t understand how my sisters could be so okay with the situation or the ability to hide their true feelings if they weren’t. After reading Allan’s book, I’ve realized that those feelings are shared with anyone who’s been a part of a similar situation. The conversations with her mother that follow and the information Allan provides in flashback chapters aren’t necessarily gripping, but they tease the reader into searching for the truth and hoping for Hollywood style plot devices. Normally I’d be putting the book down or making in uncomplimentary notes full of eye roll emojis and sighs if I encountered those. Allan had me crossing my fingers that the trite tropes of LaLa Land would appear. The ending is typical, fairytale happiness (or the promise of), but I truly did not mind, and in fact cheered when it happened. Most of the drawbacks with this book are limited and minor. Few of the secondary characters are flushed out, their use being more filler or plot device. The reader never learns why Annabelle’s boyfriend cheats on her, or why he’s so moody and truculent at times, but she don’t need to know. It’s enough that he’s convincingly portrayed as somewhat of a jerk and someone the reader realizes Annabelle would never be happy with. Some tensions in the book are resolved suddenly and a bit abruptly. Sam and Dolores’ relationship is somewhat mended, all tied up with a pretty bow at the end of the book, but readers know it’s just the first step in the healing process. The biggest drawback for me was the way Allan writes dialogue. The dialogue itself is great, very natural and flowing. The lack of a new paragraph every time there’s a new speaker is maddening. I found myself rereading passages so I could figure out who said what. I can’t believe this is a unique Irish writing style, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why or how this passed the editing team at #PoolbegPress. While frustrating for me, this shouldn’t be a reason to pass on this book. The First Time I Said Goodbye is a fantastic weekend or beach read, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Allan’s work.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    This Is THAT Book...! The one that makes you smile, cry and laugh all at the same time. Sometimes I read a book that strikes such a chord with me that I want to tell the whole world how it makes me feel. The First Time I Said Goodbye, written by Claire Allan, is that book. This book was a Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie, like Nicholas Spark’s Notebook and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, all rolled into one. Maybe not the greatest love story ever was written, but certainly in the top 10! At times it had me s This Is THAT Book...! The one that makes you smile, cry and laugh all at the same time. Sometimes I read a book that strikes such a chord with me that I want to tell the whole world how it makes me feel. The First Time I Said Goodbye, written by Claire Allan, is that book. This book was a Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie, like Nicholas Spark’s Notebook and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, all rolled into one. Maybe not the greatest love story ever was written, but certainly in the top 10! At times it had me smiling, laughing, and crying, all at the same time. As a small-town girl who joined the Army to see the world, and who never got overseas until my early 30’s, long after my Army career ended, Claire Allan transported me to Ireland in a time machine to 1959-1960. And while Derry, Ireland is nothing like Modesto California, either in the 50-60s or 2010, I recognized many similarities in life and emotions. I knew the struggle to make a living and feed a large family with a blue-collar job and one primary breadwinner. I also recognized how despite those circumstances, a person could feel that their childhood had been a happy one, filled with love and laughter while still wishing you could maybe have just a little more of what the rich and famous had. Claire Allan has a way of capturing with her words my thoughts and feelings in a way I could never seem to do. I found myself highlighting passage after passage as if re-reading her words would somehow make it easier for me to express my innermost thoughts. Even if I read it word for word to someone, knowing it perfectly revealed what I was trying to say, I am not sure another person would understand. I was reminded of a time in college when I had tried to explain to my very stoic mom, why hearing her use words to tell me how proud she was of my achievements meant so much to me. My mother heard me saying I doubted her love for me because she was not as demonstrative as my father. However, I was trying to say as Claire Allan’s character Annabel said, “…she was a good mom. We were happy. …As an adult, I had come to realise she showed me her love by making sure I had clean, fresh clothes. …But with Daddy, it was bear hugs …and long chats into small hours. He just loved me in a different way.” As I read about Annabel and her mother trying to cope with grief in their way without fully understanding the differences didn’t mean you loved any more or less, I cried over memories of my Dad’s passing over 19 years ago. Talk about grief “..overwhelming you, hitting you in relentless waves..” As a long time depression sufferer, I knew precisely what Annabel meant when she said, “ The power to be happy wasn’t in anyone’s hands but my own.” How many times have I gone about my day chanting those very words as though they were a mantra? I was amazed time and time again and how quickly and thoroughly, I was able to relate to these fictional characters whose lives were very different from mine yet seemed to hit home in my heart. As if that wasn’t enough, The First Time I said Goodbye, ends with a hope for the future and a belief that true love is worth never giving up. I do not doubt if you read this book, you too will find yourself whispering… “When Life says give up, Hope whispers ‘Try it one more time.’”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lara

    The First Time I Said Goodbye by Claire Allan is a story of loss, renewal, and forgiveness. The story opens as Annabel Jackson says goodbye to her beloved father after a long battle with cancer. She is devasted as her mother, Stella, is stoic. Stella asks Annabel to join to on a trip to her hometown of Derry, Ireland, a place she has not been to in forty years. Reluctantly, Annabel agrees, wondering why her mother wants to return to Ireland after so many years. Once there, she learns her mother The First Time I Said Goodbye by Claire Allan is a story of loss, renewal, and forgiveness. The story opens as Annabel Jackson says goodbye to her beloved father after a long battle with cancer. She is devasted as her mother, Stella, is stoic. Stella asks Annabel to join to on a trip to her hometown of Derry, Ireland, a place she has not been to in forty years. Reluctantly, Annabel agrees, wondering why her mother wants to return to Ireland after so many years. Once there, she learns her mother has an ulterior motive for coming to Ireland and the unfinished business she must deal with now. Annabel quickly learns more about her mother than she ever knew before. As she learns about her mother as a young woman, Annabel begins questioning her own life including her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, Craig. Will she be able to see Stella as the woman she is and not just as her mother? Will she finally listen to her heart and follow the desires she has long put aside? The First Time I Said Goodbye is a story of a mother and daughter, who in their own loss, find a way to connect in ways they never connected before. With the storyline switching between the summer of 2010 and the years of 1959-1962, we see Stella as a young woman in love who makes a fateful decision which brought her Ireland again. It was not what I expected when I picked up the book. I have read reunion stories before and thought it would be more a romance than a mother-daughter story. I enjoyed it as many children never truly see their parents as the individuals they were before children, with hopes and dreams and dealing with decisions of the past. One of my favorite moments in the story is when Stella’s mother Kathleen tells her “When Life says give up, Hope whispers ‘Try it one more time.’” This is essentially the theme of the story: to try one more time. One factor I did not like is that the story slowly builds up to a lover’s reunion only to be rushed at the end and it felt unsatisfying. However, I do recommend The First Time I Said Goodbye for its beautiful setting and the characters’ personal journeys. The First Time I Said Goodbye is available in paperback and eBook

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I love dual timeline stories, therefore, after reading the premises of this particular novel, I knew that I had to give it a try. The story begins with Annabel, who has just lost her father to a deadly illness. We then learn of Stella, who is Annabel's mother, and her desire to visit her native Ireland. Once Annabel and Stella are on Irish soil, the reader is introduced to the story of Stella's first-love, Ray, a soldier that she had met while she was a youngster living in Ireland. As Stella ret I love dual timeline stories, therefore, after reading the premises of this particular novel, I knew that I had to give it a try. The story begins with Annabel, who has just lost her father to a deadly illness. We then learn of Stella, who is Annabel's mother, and her desire to visit her native Ireland. Once Annabel and Stella are on Irish soil, the reader is introduced to the story of Stella's first-love, Ray, a soldier that she had met while she was a youngster living in Ireland. As Stella retells the story of her relationship with Ray, we get a chance to see into the life that she once lived, and how one day, everything came to a halt with a sudden event that devastated many in the process. In the meantime, Annabel is on a path to learn about herself, while she connects with her cousin Sam, and examines her relationship with her boyfriend, Craig. This novel was a great retelling of a love story that made my heart swell, a type of love that is difficult to find in this day and age. I loved how Stella and Ray were made for one another, standing by each other despite the difficulties of distance. I was saddened to hear how things were altered immensely, making me question how fate can play a role in one's life. In terms of the ending, I felt that there were many storylines which weren't addressed, leaving one to wonder if there would be a possible sequel. Overall, a great look at how life can sometimes guide us in a direction we were unaware of.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    I just can't read anymore of this drivel. 50% it's all I can take. The book should be over by now but keeps going on and on. The descriptions of"my daddy" and "my mammy" were terribly repetitious. Hearing about"mammy's soft hands" one more time after she scrubs the entire house and washed the clothes and makes all the food from scratch" left me wondering often how she kept her hands so soft. She couldn't afford hand cream, that was for sure. The story was dragging and repetitious and the charact I just can't read anymore of this drivel. 50% it's all I can take. The book should be over by now but keeps going on and on. The descriptions of"my daddy" and "my mammy" were terribly repetitious. Hearing about"mammy's soft hands" one more time after she scrubs the entire house and washed the clothes and makes all the food from scratch" left me wondering often how she kept her hands so soft. She couldn't afford hand cream, that was for sure. The story was dragging and repetitious and the characters too good to be true. And how no one seemed to know that Sam was gay even though his own mother knew but pretended she didn't was silly. Why would anyone want a single young lady to live in the house of her single young male cousin all by themselves if they didnt suspect he was gay? Not one of the many relatives gave it a thought. The story might have worked better as a novella or short story. The sweet mother was just too perfect and delicate and seldom could speak truthfully to her one child. The daughter was so delicate that she could not bear to hear that her mother was ever in love with someone before she met her father. She somehow believed her mother was never interested in a man until she met her husband. This just dragged too much for me to want to finish this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Milne

    I loved this book. It’s a lovely story that kept me up reading past my bedtime. I enjoyed the characters and the way they developed. The quirky people of Derry remind me a lot of the culture and way of life in England, where I am originally from. I’ve known and loved people that are so like them. It was an interesting, heart-warming read and I enjoyed the past and present perspectives. It was also a pleasure to read a well written, well edited book! I’ve read other reviews saying Stella and Anna I loved this book. It’s a lovely story that kept me up reading past my bedtime. I enjoyed the characters and the way they developed. The quirky people of Derry remind me a lot of the culture and way of life in England, where I am originally from. I’ve known and loved people that are so like them. It was an interesting, heart-warming read and I enjoyed the past and present perspectives. It was also a pleasure to read a well written, well edited book! I’ve read other reviews saying Stella and Annabelle weren’t American enough. As a transplanted Brit living in Canada, my thoughts are that the Irish culture and sayings were always used in their household, even in America. My daughter has been told her expressions are British and even the way she pronounces some words have an English accent and she has never been to England. She gets it from me as that is the way she heard the language spoken at home. I wasn’t aware of this until recently when she was at work, someone from England asked her if she had English parents. They heard the slight accent in her speech. We use Canadian and English names interchangeably at home. I suspect that is where the author is coming from in the book and I never thought that the characters didn’t seem American enough.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Like many books I've read recently, this one told two stories, one set in Ireland in the 50's and the same woman plus her daughter in the present day. Stella fell in love with an American marine stationed in her hometown of Derry as a 20 year-old, but fails to follow him to the States when he is shipped back early because her father died unexpectedly and she felt she had to stay to support her mother and siblings. Eventually when things stabilize she tries to contact him, but her letters are ret Like many books I've read recently, this one told two stories, one set in Ireland in the 50's and the same woman plus her daughter in the present day. Stella fell in love with an American marine stationed in her hometown of Derry as a 20 year-old, but fails to follow him to the States when he is shipped back early because her father died unexpectedly and she felt she had to stay to support her mother and siblings. Eventually when things stabilize she tries to contact him, but her letters are returned unopened. She moves to the States to try to talk to him in person but finds he is married, so she goes on with her life as a nanny until she meets and marries Annabel's father. As the book opens her husband has died, and she wants to return to Ireland for a visit, and take Annabel with her. Annabel had not been aware of her mother's previous love until the Ireland visit, but all is revealed as she also meets her Irish family. Meanwhile a reunion is planned for the marines in Derry while they are there visiting. This is a satisfying novel about family relationships, and not giving up on finding happiness. 3.5 stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol Engler

    Many side of love At first I was not sure I liked this book. Stella had just lost her husband. Her daughter Annabelle I was so selfish. Then out of the blue Stella is going home to Ireland. Back to see her family. Annabelle was going with and treat her boyfriend who I at first thought was her husband like carp. It came across as Stella husband was dead and I am free to do what I want. Annabelle was no better if not worse. To my delight we reach Ireland and the true story starts. Stella reconnect Many side of love At first I was not sure I liked this book. Stella had just lost her husband. Her daughter Annabelle I was so selfish. Then out of the blue Stella is going home to Ireland. Back to see her family. Annabelle was going with and treat her boyfriend who I at first thought was her husband like carp. It came across as Stella husband was dead and I am free to do what I want. Annabelle was no better if not worse. To my delight we reach Ireland and the true story starts. Stella reconnections with her family. Annabelle ends up staying with her cousin Sam who she knows threw Facebook and kind of dislikes. Sam feels the same about her. But he puts aside his feelings to put up with her. They soon discovered that they actually enjoy each other company. It doesn’t take long before the reason for this trip comes out. Stella past comes forward that drags you in the 1960’s and the life of young Stella in love , enjoying a life she had. The things she gave up that suddenly makes you realize you can not judge a book by it cover. In fact most of the characters are not at all what you first think.

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