Bestselling, award-winning novelist, Debbie Macomber, writes a compassionate, yet quirky story of one man’s journey through grief—sabotaged by his lost love—who decides when his sadness should end.
Hannah’s List is a letter written to her beloved husband right before she dies of terminal ovarian cancer, to be given to him on the anniversary of her passing. Pediatrician Michael Everett receives an envelope from his best friend, Hannah’s brother, when that day arrives. Hannah, pragmatic in life and impending death, had given it to her brother at the last dinner party that they would share.
Michael reads the letter alone as Hannah reviews their life together and her great love for him. He breaks down, overwhelmed at her deep concern for his feelings rather than her own, but that was one reason he loved her so much. And then he reads her list.
Hannah has judiciously selected three women that she believes would be good for him. Michael becomes at first horrified and then angry, not yet ready, if ever, to replace Hannah. Certainly, he is not about to go searching for a new wife. His initial rage at even the thought of such an ill-advised plan begins to waver as his curiosity over her choices gets the best of him—choices both varied and even a bit prejudiced as Hannah has her own favorite in mind for Michael.
In the weeks following the reading of the list, which renders Michael an emotional wreck, each of the three women, having no idea that they are on a list, manage to keep bumping into his life, bringing problems of their own. Surely Hannah is manipulating this, Michael thinks, but to please his wife he begins to date each woman on the list. He is not particularly thrilled with any of them, especially the last of the three, an eccentric, overly talkative animal lover whose home is as chaotic as her life. Michael, satisfied that he has fulfilled Hannah’s wishes, now intends to return to the familiarity of his grief-filled life in peace. Hannah has other ideas about that.
This charming book runs multiple story lines with Michael narrating. The other three women tell their own stories in separate chapters—a clever plot device except that it slows both the pace and the continuity of the story. Initially, it seems a cruel thing for Michael to mourn for a year and then start dating, but Hannah manages to convince the reader, as well, that it is best for him to move on with his life.
This poignant, yet funny book delivers insight into Michael’s feelings and allows the reader to grasp the depth of pain and loss of a man who dearly loved his wife. Macomber writes a soul-searching, passionately beautiful novel about a distraught man reaching the other side of sorrow and finding love once again. Hannah’s List leaves one with a warm, cuddly feeling that remains long after the story’s end.