Member Reviews

I loved the dual timing in this book, by going back to the past into the present. I absolutely loved this friendship story! This was my first book by this author.

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A beautifully written story of friendship and love. I feel in love with this book within the first few pages. I wish the book didn't need to end

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Heart Warming, Heart Breaking, engaging, in some parts relatable, well written and easy to follow. Its a good book.

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The Sunrise Swimming Society is the latest book from Irish author Rosie Hannigan. I haven’t gotten round to reading her debut yet but it is edging ever closer to the top of my TBR pile. This is a story of friends and family. How we can be so close but then pulled apart but we can always be reunited if we are willing for this to be the case. It’s a relaxing and gentle read, perhaps a little too slow in places and maybe a little over long also but as this is only the author’s second book there was a sense of her settling into her writing pattern and rhythm and making things a bit tighter can come in future books. I think the author has great potential and we definitely need more Irish women authors on the writing scene as there doesn’t seem to be as many as there was in the heyday of Maeve Binchy and Emma Hannigan for example. The setting throughout is fabulous and there is a real sense of time and place and how important one’s home and family are. I liked the fact it was told in a duel timeline format dipping back and forth between the past and present. Although, I would say I preferred the present day setting but fully understood the need to explore the past. It afforded a means of understanding how the three women had come to know each other and how their friendship had developed and then subsequently splintered.

Lough Caragh means the lake of beloved friendship and once for Niamh, Heather and Lauren this was certainly true as it was the lake and of course Rosemary (Lauren’s grandmother) that united them at the beginning of their secondary school journey. Learning to swim and then spending hours in the lake afforded the girls an opportunity to get to know one another deeply. They became everything to each other and specifically at every solstice both summer and winter they would gather in the early morning sunrise and swim in the lake. This became a sacred ritual to them and Rosemary. Any negativity was washed away, and their intentions were set for the rest of the year. But something caused the friendship to shatter and splinter and for many years the girls now women have not laid eyes on each other nor spoken one word. Considering how close they had been, telling each other their problems, experiencing the ups and downs of being a teenager and sharing the good times and the bad what could possibly have caused their estrangement? I had high hopes that it would be something exciting, juicy and thrilling.

In the present day, Niamh has always remained in Lough Caragh and is married to Evan. She had gotten pregnant at 18 and now has three children. She really could do with something in her life changing as she feels she is in a rut of looking after the children, even though they are now teenagers, with days where everything is just repetition of the same old same old. She thinks it’s impossible for herself and Evan to get back to where they once where and he underappreciates her and everything she does. They have drifted far apart but as she swims in Lough Caragh on the winter solstice she receives a sense of hope and renewal as the lake provides her with a sanctuary and time to think. She really wants to take a new step in her life as the children have some independence now but that’s not to say the home can run itself and Evan wants another baby and this is certainly not in Niamh’s plans.

Niamh came across as being fed up and at a cross roads in her life. Having had her children so young she didn’t perhaps get to travel and gain the life experiences that she may have wished for. Were her wings curtailed a little bit and now was she regretting it? Given the pressure from Evan to commit to another child would she only be stuck to the house once again? This leaves her feeling, sad, heartbroken and alone and all I wanted her to do was be brave and say what she felt as she did have great plans of her own. I doubted had she the inner strength to do this as she was fragile and vulnerable. Niamh notices that Lauren and Heather seemed to have returned to the village. But is their return permeant or fleeting and what has brought them back considering their fallout all those years ago? All the easy laughter, crazy jokes and sharing and kindness they had, meant so much to her and as so much water has passed under the bridge can there be a chance for forgiveness? Or will continue to keep away from each other?

Out of the three women that feature, in my mind, Lauren was the best formed character and she was very well written. He returns to Lough Caragh to try and sort out Rosemary’s house now that she has recently passed away. Rosemary’s absence is keenly felt and Lauren recollects all the wonderful times she shared with her and her best friends on the lake. All that is gone now but is there a chance for a reconciliation with Niamh and Heather? Lauren is a teacher, living in Dublin and married to Shane but she is taking time out to rest and recover from trauma. The details of which I will not go into suffice to say it forms a strong part of her storyline and many women will find her really relatable and most definitely feel for her.

She is shattered and vulnerable and is considering a major decision that would wrench her world in two even further. I thought the portrayal of Niamh and her state of mind was very well done. She was pushing so many people away and I could see why she was doing this but I didn’t think she was in the right headspace to make such a monumental decision. As we learn more about her I believed if she went ahead with what she was planning she would deeply regret it. She is in a dark place with things disintegrating around her and if Niamh and Heather had been by her side and the fracturing of their friendship hadn’t occurred maybe she would have dealt with things better.

As for Heather, I thought she was the most stand offish of the three. She had made a life for herself outside of Lake Caragh and had never wanted to return. She is a social media influencer with her own travel blog and is back to review a local hotel. We slowly start to learn of her childhood and how difficult it was growing up with the parents she had. How this in turn affected the way she was viewed in the village. She was made to feel small and insignificant and all she ever wished for was a normal life with order and consistency. Her parents made her feel as if she didn’t matter so meeting Niamh, Lauren and Rosemary gave her a form of escape from her unsettled child and from being a parent to parents.

Heather was forced to take on responsibilities that no one of her age should have had to and now in the present day she is eaten up by anger, bitterness and resentment. She didn’t come across as being a happy person at all. Someone who had broken free of the shackles and was now happy and comfortable in their own skin having put the past behind them. Instead, it was the exact opposite. I felt she was prickly and unapproachable and the chip on her shoulder would take time to wear down and as her head was in such a state this was starting to affect her relationships. Until she could truly let go of the past both in relation to her parents and the reason for the fallout out between herself, Niamh and Lauren there was no way Heather was moving forward any time soon.

Overall, I did enjoy The Sunrise Swimming Society and as previously mentioned the author has great potential but for me it was just missing that little something to turn it into an excellent read rather than a very good one. For me, the reveal fell flat given thee had been so much mystery surrounding the estrangement of the three women. It felt anti-climatic given they had feuded for so long. I wanted the cause of their friendship separation to be something big and dramatic but it was a bit of a let down and their reunion too needed more passion and tumult. Saying all this makes it sound like this wasn’t a book for me but really I did enjoy it and these are just a few observations. I think it would make the ideal holiday read as it is a book that you can dip in and out of and never feel lost as to what is happening in the plot. I’ll certainly make sure to read book one, The Moonlight Gardening Club and whatever Rosie Hannigan may write in the future because I feel she is only on the cusp of what she can achieve with her stories.

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Such a great read.
The story is about 3 girls, they meet at school on their first day, together they become best friends. One of the friends’ grandmother is always there for them to help and offer advice.
But, when they are 18, they go their separate ways after having huge arguments.
Then after 15 years, their individual issues bring them back in the village they grew up in. The story is told from all three girls’ perspectives in the present and the past.

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The Sunrise Swimming Society by Rosie Hannigan

I received an advance review copy for free thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Blurb

The day Heather, Niamh and Lauren met, they promised to be best friends for life, and that instant connection only grew stronger with their weekly sunrise swims in their stunning local lake. When they left school, they agreed that, no matter where life took them, every year on midsummer’s dawn, they would meet at their old spot and swim together.

Now, fifteen years later, the tradition has disappeared in the face of life’s realities. In fact, they don’t speak any more – not since that night . . .

But this summer, they find themselves back in their Irish hometown and realise this could be their last chance to recapture what they have lost. Will their return to sunrise swimming heal each of them, and help them rekindle the friendships they once treasured?

My Opinion

This story is told in dual timelines. This was a great story of friendship and each character was relatable. I was pulled into this story and enjoyed it far more than I would have anticipated. Reading this will allow you to see the close bond that the friends have, even after 15 years.

Rating 4/5

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This is an exceptional novel of friends and family. This made me look back om my life with friends and family that I grew up with. It also opened my eyes and realise that there is normally a good reason why we upset our friends and family too and how differently we all show our love.

The story is written in the past and present. Three girls become firm friends from the day that they meet. The solstice became very important to them. They went to the lake as the sun came up and swam. They all made their own intentions and tried to carry them out. Lauren, one of the girls had a marvellous grandmother. She also went swimming at solstice.

After fifteen years, where they had not seen or spoken to one another, they come together for a very important solstice. Are they able to put the past behind them and carry on where it had gone wrong?

The characters were so true to life. Images of Ireland floated throughout the book and brought it to life.
Congratulations to Rosie Hannigan for a superb read. I have not read this authors books before, however I am hooked.

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I did enjoy this and liked the story more than the writing style, the setting and characters were both warm and engaging and I did feel caught up in the story.

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I'm a fan of a book trope of friendships from high school and this one really doesn't disappoint. I loved the setting and adored the characters.

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A good book about relationships, friendships, and life choices. A heart warming and compelling story, well plotted and compelling.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Thanks to netgalley for the chance to read this book.

Heather, Niamh and Lauren meet at school and promise to be best friends for life. They have a strong connection that gets stronger as they take part in their weekly swims at the local lake. They agree that wherever life takes them they will meet every year on midsummer’s dawn and swim together.

Fifteen years have passed and the tradition disappeared because of the reality of life’s ups and downs. If fact, they haven’t spoken to each other for the past fifteen years since the night that they all want to forget.

This summer they find themselves back in their hometown, they realise that this may be the last chance to be friends again. Can they rekindle their friendship they once treasured with the help of sunrise swimming?

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A lovely book that is all about how to forgive, however it also brings up the trials and tribulations of what life can throw at us. Well written and I enjoyed it!

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The Sunrise Swimming Society

Three friends, Niamh, Lauren and Heather, promise to be friends forever and their connection grows stronger with their weekly sunrise swims. A single night, however, changes everything and their friendship and bond is broken. Fifteen years later they find themselves back in the same village, can they reunite and salvage the love and connection they once had?

This book captures the complexities of female friendships and it also examines different family units. The three teenagers come from very different backgrounds but despite this, they connect in a very special away. As they navigate their way into adulthood each has their own personal challenges and stories to tell, while the descriptions of the village and the lake are just gorgeous.

Swimming groups, having grown in popularity in recent years, are a great vehicle for bringing people together, this book is certainly of its time. These groups (very often women) meet daily or weekly to wash their problems away in the seas, lakes and rivers around the country. I have been lucky enough to make wonderful connections through swimming in the sea.

Many thanks to @harpercollinsire for including me in their Blog Tour of this wonderful book 🌅 🏊🏼‍♀️

#giftedbook #irishbookstagram #bookstagram #seaswimmingireland #lakeswimming #thesunriseswimmingsociety

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This is a great cosy book about forgiveness but also the trials that life throws upon us. It got me thinking while also providing a way to escape from reality. It was really well written. I just loved It!

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Lauren, Heather and Niamh are best friends, all with very different families but brought together by Lauren's gran, Rosemary. For them, she is ki d and provides guidance and refuge from other parts of their lives.
But on the night of the girls finishing their exams, they had a huge row and as a result they haven't spoken to each other again.
The characters in this book pull you I to the story. You want to know what happens along with how their past affects their present.

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Three Irish schoolfriends Heather, Niamh and Lauren bonded over early morning swims at the lake and thought they’d be together for ever. But then they had a falling out and went their separate ways.
Now 15 years later, the three women are back. Heather, who was raised in a hippy family without much parenting, is helping her mother pack up her house.
Niamh, who has had a family with teacher Evan, is considering setting up a B&B. And Lauren is back because her beloved grandmother Rosemary left her the house.
In conjunction with the current-day storyline, the book dips into the past lives of the women, leading up to their big argument. Neither their feud nor their reunion made much of a splash.

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This book follows the lives of three teenage girls in dual timeline - as teenagers and as current day women. And Rosemary, one of the girls grandmother, and how she keeps going after the death of her husband.

On the morning of the solstices at sunrise, the 4 gather at the lake for a morning swim and proclaim their intentions. Until one night the three girls had a big fight and don't show up the next morning. And fracture their relationships. The problem with this story is - it takes until the end of the book to find out why they haven't remained friends over the years. It drags out and I almost gave up without reaching the end.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a digital, temporary ARC in return for my review.

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Set in Lough Caragh a small town in Ireland, the story centres around three young girls who meet and become friends when starting high school. Niamh, Heather and Lauren. Lauren’s grandmother Rosemary plays an integral part in their stories, living in Mill House overlooking the Lake.
Centred around the lake, swimming and on the lake shore, the story moves from when the girls were young, to present day.

It’s a lovely book about growing up, maturing into adulthood with the trials and tribulations of life.
I really enjoyed reading this, I wanted to spend time swimming in Lough Caragh, which means The Lake of beloved friendship.
A lovely little gem of a book.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Publisher for an advanced e-book copy. Opinions about the book are entirely my own.

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EXCERPT: Sipping from her bottle of lemonade she watched the three girls and thought of her own group of friends. They'd helped her through thick and thin. Some of the most magical and the roughest moments had been safely navigated purely because of their support and love. Lauren, Heather and Niamh already looked like the best of friends. The way they were chatting and listening to each other warmed Rosemary's heart. There was something special between them, and that, Rosemary knew, was the best thing in the world. Deep in her heart, Rosemary hoped they's stay friends forever.

ABOUT ' THE SUNRISE SWIMMING SOCIETY': The day Heather, Niamh and Lauren met, they promised to be best friends for life, and that instant connection only grew stronger with their weekly sunrise swims in their stunning local lake. When they left school, they agreed that, no matter where life took them, every year on midsummer’s dawn, they would meet at their old spot and swim together.

Now, fifteen years later, the tradition has disappeared in the face of life’s realities. In fact, they don’t speak any more – not since that night . . .

But this summer, they find themselves back in their Irish hometown and realise this could be their last chance to recapture what they have lost. Will their return to sunrise swimming heal each of them, and help them rekindle the friendships they once treasured?

MY THOUGHTS: I'm going to start with the one negative, because other than this small fly in the ointment, I loved this read! It is too long and contains too much inconsequential information that adds nothing to the storyline. Do we really need to know that Niamh's parents met at an ABBA concert in 19whatever? No. This would have been a much better read at closer to 300 than 400 pages.

The story is told over two timelines - the current day and when the girls were growing up - and is told from the points of view of the three girls - Niamh, Heather and Lauren - and Rosemary, Lauren's grandmother. The characters are lovely. No one is perfect, and Rosie Hannigan does a wonderful job of depicting them in all their moods and different situations. I could envisage different scenes playing out in front of me like a movie, especially when the girls had their big bust up!

Their lives all turned out very differently than they had envisaged (make plans and God laughs) and there is some resentment and envy when they all meet again, and past issues that need to be worked through. Can they put their past differences and hurts behind them and resume their friendship, older and wiser?

My favorite character was Rosemary, a wonderful woman with a kind heart. Did I relate to her more because I am closer to her age than that of the girls? Probably.

I love a good read where the characters are interesting and relatable, and The Sunrise Swimming Society certainly fits that bill. A lovely multi-generational tale infected with Irish wit and warmth.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheSunriseSwimmingSocietyRosieHannigan #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Rosie Hannigan writes uplifting novels of friendship, love, and hope. When she's not writing, she enjoys gardening, where she listens to podcasts and ponders what it is that makes us human and how marvelous it is that we prevail no matter what we come up against. When she's not gardening, she's stargazing, usually with the love of her life by her side and a glass of red in her hand. And every now and then she hops on the back of her husband's motorbike in the hopes that the passing countryside will serve her some inspiration.
Rosie lives in Ireland with her husband, her children, and her adored but ageing cat. (Amazon - abridged)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Sunrise Swimming Society by Rosie Hannigan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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The Sunrise Swimming Society by Rosie Hannigan is a story of friendships, mistakes, and forgiveness. It's also a story of found family and second chances.

Niamh, Lauren, and Heather were best friends during their teenage years but have fallen out with other. Fifteen years later, all three women have no communication with each other, though they are updated on each other's lives. The common factor in their lives is Rosemary, Lauren's grandmother, who had taken the girls under her wing. She is gone, and the grief of losing her might be the catalyst for a reunion. But can broken relationships mend?

I might have shed a tear or two at the end of this book. I fell in love with Rosemary. Her character reinstated that no matter what our age is, we can start over and accomplish our dreams. The other characters were a sort of shadow for me because though they were best friends, their relationship was not really as fleshed out as I would have liked. Rosemary is what makes this book.

Thank you, Avon Books UK, and Netgalley for this book.

CW: Loss, Grief, Parentification, Neglect, Infertility, Infidelity, Alcohol

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