Hachette Books Ireland and the Headline Publishing Group are publishing the final novel from Irish writer Emma Hannigan, who passed away earlier this year after suffering from cancer. Titled The Gift of Friends, the book will be "a life-affirming story that celebrates the power of female friendship", and will be published on 28th February 2019. The announcement is made to coincide with the date of Hannigan's birthday (25th September).
Hannigan submitted the draft for the book to her editors, Ciara Doorley and Sherise Hobbs, in January, emailing the acknowledgements for the book just days before she died on 3rd March. According to her publishers and family, her final book is "a story of joy and friendship, love and light", and "filled with [her] trademark warm characters and skilful storytelling".
News of The Gift of Friends was shared on what would have been the mother-of-two's 46th birthday (25th September). It follows her 12th novel, Letters to My Daughters, that, fuelled by an author campaign backed by the likes of Marian Keyes, reached Number 1 in Ireland's book charts. At the time, after which it went on to become one of Ireland’s bestselling novels of 2018, spending five weeks in the Number 1 spot and 22 weeks in the Top Ten, Hannigan also succeeded in her ambition to fundraise €100,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland for whom she was an ambassador.
As part of the announcement of Hannigan's final novel, a statement from the author's family paid tribute to her "ever-generous spirit". "Today is Emma’s birthday. It’s hard to believe that six months have already passed since she left us. We miss her love, her ever-generous spirit and, of course, her wicked sense of humour," they said.
"We’ve always felt that Emma wrote so that a part of her would always be with us. So we are very happy to tell you that Emma left us one last gift, her final book. The Gift of Friends is a story of joy and friendship, love and light. As Emma said, 'When it comes down to the wire, all that matters is love … I will be there in your hearts and you will be in mine.' We hope you open your hearts and enjoy this very special book. Love and Light."
Hannigan's editors, Ciara Doorley of Hachette Books Ireland and Sherise Hobbs of Headline Publishing Group, added jointly: "Emma always poured her heart and her humour into her novels and she was excited about sharing The Gift of Friends with her readers. Filled with Emma’s trademark warm characters and skilful storytelling, this is a life-affirming story that celebrates the power of female friendship."