Review: The Garden of Hopes and Dreams by Barbara Hannay


Title: The Garden of Hopes and Dreams

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: 3rd August 2021, Michael Joseph

Status: Read August 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia




My Thoughts:


Barbara Hannay’s The Garden of Hopes and Dreams is a delightful, uplifting story of love, friendship, connection and community.

Centering around an apartment block in central Brisbane, neighbours become friends as the residents of Riverview bond over the creation of a rooftop garden.


(More to come…)


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Review and Giveaway: The Sister’s Gift by Barbara Hannay


Title: The Sister’s Gift

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: August 4th 2020, Michael Joseph

Status: Read August 2020 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia


Two sisters, one baby and the best of intentions…

As a vibrant, young woman with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of her, Freya grants her sister, Pearl, the ultimate gift of motherhood. However, this comes at a hefty price – an unexpected rift in her family and the loss of the man she loves.

Decades later, Freya is divorced, childless and homeless, at rock bottom after losing everything she’s worked for. When her estranged niece, Billie, offers sanctuary, managing the family restaurant on beautiful Magnetic Island, Freya can hardly refuse.

Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and her aunt and now, with a newly broken heart, she is nursing a family secret of her own. All three women come together under the tropical Queensland skies, but can they let go of past regrets, or will old tensions tear them further apart?

By the bestselling author of Meet Me in Venice, this is a moving and inspiring novel in a stunning setting about choices and consequences and the redemptive power of love.


My Thoughts:


After losing her husband, her career, and her home, an offer from Freya’s niece, Billie, to manage the family bistro on Magnetic Island while her parents, Pearl and Troy, are travelling, is a gift she can’t afford to refuse. Billie, recently returned from several years overseas and recovering from heartbreak, is happy when Freya accepts, even if her mother seems inexplicably wary of the two spending so much time together.

Unfolding from the perspectives of Freya and Billie, The Sister’s Gift by Barbara Hannay is a story of motherhood, secrets, and second chances.

At the heart of this novel is the secrecy surrounding the surrogacy arrangement shared by Freya and Pearl. Hannay’s portrayal of their complicated relationship is thoughtful and nuanced. The experience drove a wedge between the sisters, largely due to Pearl’s fears and insecurities about motherhood tangled with the remnants of sibling rivalry. Freya has never regretted her decision, though it came at a personal cost, but she has been disappointed by the distance between herself and her sister, and tried her best to maintain a relationship, at a distance, with Billie.

Freya’s return to Magnetic Island is inadvertently a catalyst for Billie learning the secret of her birth, but it also offers Freya a surprising opportunity for a second chance when her ex-fiancé, with whom she ended things in order to become Pearl’s surrogate, arrives at the island for the winter months. I sympathised easily with Freya and was pleased by the closeness she established with Billie, and the romance that developed between Freya and her old beau.

Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and aunt, but has always largely dismissed it as being due to her mother’s high-strung, anxious personality. It’s one of the reasons Billie keeps secrets from Pearl, though she can’t hide this latest one for long. Though somewhat impulsive and directionless, I liked Billie well enough, and thought her emotions related to events were portrayed authentically. What surprised me was the haste of her romantic relationship arc, I didn’t mind that Hannay developed one, but I didn’t think the timeline was believable given the circumstances.

In the end it’s the reveal of a secret Pearl is keeping from both Billie and Freya that leads to the sisters mending their rift. Though the plot points of the story are fairly predictable, they still offer emotional impact, with both heartwarming and poignant moments.

The Sister’s Gift is an engaging and pleasant read, and those who enjoy family drama with a happy ending will surely find it gratifying.



Courtesy of PenguinRandomHouse Australia,

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Review: Meet Me In Venice by Barbara Hannay


Title: Meet Me in Venice

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: August 6th 2019, Michael Joseph

Status: Read August 2019, courtesy PenguinRandomHouse



My Thoughts:

Meet Me in Venice is a lovely, heartfelt story from multi-award-winning author, Barbara Hannay.

A year after the sudden death of her beloved husband, Daisy Benetto can think of no better place for a family reunion than Venice, the place of Leo’s birth. While Daisy and her youngest daughter, nineteen year old Ellie, will fly in from their home in Queensland, Australia, oldest son Marc, and his wife, will be traveling from California’s Silicon Valley, and Anna from London, where she has been trying to launch her career as an actress.

Hannay has created a loving, ordinary family in Meet Me in Venice with whom most readers will relate. Daisy is a warm, caring mother who is proud of her children, and her children clearly adore her in return. I thought the dynamics of the sibling relationships rang true, with the rivalries and role playing that often carry into adulthood.

Daisy’s children all want her to have a wonderful time in Venice and so are determined not to worry her with their own problems, but that’s not easy in such close quarters when tensions sit so close to the surface. The strain only increases when the family learns that Leo kept a secret from them all which threatens to undermine what they thought they knew of the husband and father they admired. I really liked the way in which Hannay dealt with all of these varied issues and the way in which they were resolved.

Hannay‘s novels are usually set in rural Australia but this is set almost wholly in Venice. It’s such an appealing city and the descriptions of its historic architecture, delicious cuisine and rich culture enhance the enjoyment of the story.

A captivating story about family, love and life’s journey, Meet Me in Venice is an engaging and enjoyable read.

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Also by Barbara Hannay reviewed at Book’d Out 

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